WH Pharmaceuticals Must Die

Summary:

March 2, 2014: Emma Frost has business with Tony Stark. Tony pushes his luck and, now, Emma's angry.

Stark Industries — Tony's Office

To say Tony's office as CEO is opulent is an understatement. To say that there are penthouses that aren't as lavish is a more fair description. This is more of a suite than an actual office: There's a mini conference room, sitting room, full appointed luxury bathroom, a mini bedroom, a workout room, and then after all that? The actual office itself in which there is only a wall mounted television, an ancient looking wooden desk on which sits something so sleek that it MIGHT be a computer, or it could be art. There is also a fully stocked professional grade bar. That's the thing about Tony, right? He always gets the good stuff, and for one of the places where he spends most of his time he provides only the best and beyond.


Characters

NPCs

  • Jherika (NPC)

Mood Music:


It's actually 8am on the dot, now. Emma Frost is dressed to the nines in a stark white business suit in a design so sharp that she cuts an imposing figure with an ice cold beauty to match her chilly disposition. She carries a white folder — which is actually a razor-razor thin laptop that she designed only for herself — not for mass marketing, though she probably could and grow her fortune sizably. However, she has no interest in making anyone else's life easier. Just hers. And, her razor-razor thin laptop has her signature logo on it — a snowflake with F worked artfully into the center of it. She sits in the waiting room of Stark Industries, her shapely legs crossed, her white-heeled foot bouncing lazily. Though it seems idle, Emma is, in fact, impatient. But, it doesn't really show, as such. Unless, one is her personal assistant. And, Jherika is. Her personal assistant, that is.

Looking nervously at Emma, Jherika stands and steps up to the desk, "I'm sorry, but Ms. Frost has been waiting for fifteen minutes. I realize she came early, but that's her way. She…does not like to wait. Please, when will Mr. Stark be ready?" The girl is, perhaps, 20. She is short, perky, and has freckles on her cute little face. She has an angular bob haircut, her caramel brown hair licking at the edge of her jawline as she talks. She's dressed impeccably, but not too audaciously. She's clicking a pen — silently, lest it irritate Emma further — in a nervous habit as she awaits an answer.




At 8:00am and fifteen seconds, the elevator opens and Pepper steps out, her own choice of a black pencil skirt and blazer over a royal blue silk blouse and black designer heels a contract to Ms. Frost's white attire. She has a smartphone-sized object in her hand that resembles a piece of clear glass, except that the glass displays data on it very much like a smartphone.

Approaching the waiting executive and her assistant at a brisk pace that sets the click of her heels on the polished floors to echoing in the lobby, she offers Ms. Frost a smile. "Many apologies for my tardiness, Ms. Frost. If you would accompany me, please?"




Rule one: When on your home court, always make them wait. Rule two: Show up an hour before everyone else. Rule two.point.five: This is best accomplished by having an express elevator that goes from your penthouse to the back of your office.

Tony is knocking back his third espresso of the morning, in addition to the two he's had before he came down. He fixes everything so that coffee is brewing. He checks his watch. Pepper should be coming in with Emma and her twitch P.A. in 5..4..3..2..1..




Jherika looks visibly relieved upon Pepper's arrival and she smiles a brilliant, sweet little smile at the woman as she walks up. One can easily imagine her jumping up and down with happiness, were she not the personal assistant to Emma Frost. She mouths 'thank you, thank you, thank you, thankyouthankyouthankyou' to Pepper as Emma rises without a response to the apology. She doesn't smile, she doesn't nod. She simply stands and follows behind Pepper, her height still greater than the well-dressed woman, even in platform heels. Jherika scurries along behind, her heels making light little hushed, staccato clicks as she skims quickly across the floor to catch up with her boss. Emma's heels make an audible, stern sort of noise as she walks, as though her steps are purposeful and carry an importance to them. She follows Pepper into Tony's office, and Jherika follows behind and slightly to one side of Emma, so as to be easily accessible if needed and invisible if not.




Pepper Potts leads Ms. Frost and Jherika to Tony's office, staying at the door to close it behind them after all three women have entered, nodding slightly to Tony behind Emma's at the smell of fresh coffee. She then steps over to a chair out of the way where her tablet already waits, as if preparing to become the corporate equivalent of a court reporter with that shorthand machine. Before she sits, though, she asks the customary question. "May I get anything for you? Coffee perhaps?" She addresses Emma, but her eyes flick toward Jherika to indicate that she's offering beverages to them both.




Tony Stark is standing when the ladies enter the office. He raises his arms, as if welcoming them into his own home; he might as well be, at that. "Miss Frost." he says, smile bright, "Jherika," he says warmly, giving Emma's assistant a wink, and says finally, "Thank you, Pepper." and when Pepper offers them beverages he motions to the seats in front of his desk. "Please, by all means make yourselves at home." he says, taking his own seat behind the desk.




Emma moves directly to the seat provided for visiting businesspersons, and simply regards Tony's outstretched arms with cold blue eyes and very little expression on her face. "You can dispense with the spiel, Mr. Stark. I've business here and that is what brings me. Not your idle chatter, however rehearsedly charming it may be," she says with a hint of amusement in her voice.

Simultaneously, Jherika flushes at Tony's wink, grinning shyly back before turning to Pepper and saying in hushed tones, "Miss Frost actually prefers french vanilla coffee with coconut creamer. If you don't have that, it's fine. She's equally happy with plain milk, if you have that. If not, that's fine. I have some in my kit." And, here, she gestures to a large bag she carries on her shoulder, which looks more like a small carry-on suitcase or duffel bag than a purse of any kind.




Pepper Potts leaves Tony to face off against Emma while she smile and nods to Jherika, pulling the younger assistant along to fix that perfect cup of french vanilla coffee with coconut creamer for her boss. She lets Jherika carry the coffee to her boss, fixing a fresh cup of (not espresso) coffee with the requisite too-much-sugar, which she moves to set on Tony's desk within easy reach before she steps back toward her 'court reporter' spot again. This is the kind of facade that she and Tony don't have to put up normally, but it's clearly well practiced regardless.




Tony Stark chuckles, "Oh Emma," he says gently, "I'm so touched you think I've rehearsed for you."

"Thank you, Pepper." he says, and reclines in his chair. "Alright, so let's have the business then." he says mildly, hands steepled in front of him as he prepares to listen to whatever it is Emma finds so pressing she thought it necessary to take a meeting.




Jherika is so breathlessly thankful and effusively appreciative of all of Pepper's help. To some, she may seem twitchy, but Pepper can recognize the heartfelt desire to do a good job — this is the reason for Jherika's sincere and earnest dedication to her job, and not fear. She genuinely likes Emma and feels she can learn things from her, simply by being in her presence. She thinks her boss is badass, and powerful, and beautiful. And, setting her heavy bag down, she takes the cup of barely-coffee to Emma, from the side and silently. She sets it to the right side of her body, on the desk, and scampers silently back to where she set her bag — even further away than Pepper.

"Oh, Tony.." Emma answers with a soft laugh. "I'm amused that you assume I thought about you until I absolutely had to. Everything about you is rehearsed — it probably started when your balls dropped," she smiles thinly and takes a sip of her coffee. Perfect, as usual. That's why Jherika's lasted. "Basically, it's very simple. One of your many, many companies is the sole supporter of a little business in Boston, Massachusetts that goes by the name of WH Pharmaceuticals. It is only by the grace of one of your many, many companies that this business stays afloat. I want you to withdraw that support," she says simply.




Tony Stark rolls his eyes at the barb. He already looks bored. "And why would I want to discontinue my support when it will so obviously benefit you?" he asks - because he only fences until he's done fencing, and goes right to the heart of it. "What do you want this time?"




Pepper Potts's attention snaps up from her tablet to Emma at the rather unflattering mental image the woman's words created. Her stare is brief, but if looks could kill, the white-suited woman might have to worry. She looks back down at her tablet again when a company name is mentioned, and she types on her tablet's screen with an ease and speed that most can only achieve with a full size computer keyboard. She's querying Stark Industries' systems, trying to find anything she can about this WH Pharmaceuticals place. Why would Ms. Frost be interested in so small a firm?




"In what way, do you think, will this benefit me?" Emma asks, genuinely curious. Surely, Tony couldn't know about the connection, considering he knew very little about Emma's personal life — or, perhaps he made it his business to know every business powerhouse's life. If Emma is concerned, her face doesn't show it. "All I'm requesting is that you withdraw support from a nothing little pharmaceutical company in Boston. It's on its last legs, and I'd like to kick the last one out from under it," she smiles, lifting her hands, palms upward, as if to say 'whaaaat?'

It does take a bit of digging, but Pepper finds the company that Emma is referring to — a pharmaceutical company in Boston that was once quite formidable, until about five years ago, when all of its buyers began turning elsewhere. Rumors about unsafe work conditions, bad batches of medications, lawsuits, and so much more. The company's reputation has been tarnished beyond repair, but it gives the best prices for affordable STD treatments and antibiotics for the needy — which is where one of Tony's many corporations comes in… A chain of charity clinics under one big umbrella. Ah. Here's something. The owner and founder of the company is one Winston Frost.




Pepper Potts reads all of the data she's located quickly, then forwards it to Tony's computer where he can see it if he wants, highlighting the pertinent information, specifically that the company is employed for a good cause, and the company has familial ties to Emma. At the end of the data is her own little bit of input: 'This company needs to stay in business.'




Tony Stark sits back, "Well, Emma, you sure as hell don't do anything out of the goodness of your oh so icy soul. So when you come to me and ask me to cut off one of the limbs of my Hand to Heart Foundation, so you can have something to gloat about during your lunch meeting with the Ice Queens of the Greater Tri-State area, it definitely gives me pause and my initial instinct is to say no." he pauses and lets that settle for a moment before continuing, "Now, you want to come into my office to do business and then ask me why the deal your proposing would benefit you? I think you got your signals a little crossed. So unless you're willing to tell me why, I'm set to turn WH Pharmaceuticals into the next Pfizer just so I can brag to MY lunch meeting with The Biggest Assholes of the Five Boroughs that you came waltzing into my office this morning and stepped on those pretty little size eight toes."




Emma's expression hardens — if that's possible. Any hint of smile is gone. And, if it weren't for the fact that Tony knows the temperatures in his office are automatically regulated, one could almost swear it just dropped 10 degrees.

In the back of the room, Jherika makes the tiniest of nervous sounds — like a wailing sound swallowed by the crashing of the seas of turbulence in the room. Should anyone look in her direction, she's backing her way into a corner, wringing her hands nervously.

"Let me tell you why that would be a very baaaaaaaaaaad idea, Anthony," Emma says in a very soft, neutral voice. "Far be it from me to stop you from supplying the loosely moraled and desperately bedded, of which your ilk seem so very fond, with the necessary cheap antibiotics and medications for their various and sundry weeping sores and flaming genitalia… WH Pharmaceuticals is a health hazard to the nation, at large. They have failed the last TWO health inspections, another one and they will be forced out of commission by the CDC. Additionally, do you really want it known that a company related to Stark Industries is dispensing medication it got on the cheap, that may or may not be contaminated with hazardous waste material, simply to save a buck?" she asks, opening her razor-razor thin laptop. "I mean, I'm certain that all that bad press could be made worse when I buy out your Hand to Heart Foundation and shut the whole thing down, for public safety, releasing the all-too-shocking numbers of death and hospitalization that are tied to patients treated with medications from WH Pharmaceuticals," she says, sending /Pepper/ some facts and figures of her own. Which all seem very legitimate, from the cursory research and fact-checking to be done in a hot minute.




Pepper Potts looks from Tony to Emma and back, then blinks at her tablet as new information appears on it, and seems to have come directly from the latter. She promptly starts trying to verify the new data, typing on her screen quickly. If it's actually honestly valid, she'll schedule another surprise inspection of this place and go there herself and bring it up to code if necessary, or barring any other options, shut the place down. But she'd really rather not do that if she can avoid it.




Tony Stark cants his head to one side, "Are we done now? Good. Because what will actually happen, is that when you'll leave I will have WH brought up to code immediately. Then I will send out a press release thank both you and your company for providing the oversight that allowed me to correct such a heinous error, and will be making the appropriate personnel changes that will make sure such a thing never happens again. Then I will send out a memo directly from this desk with my name on it advising that anyone making inquiries into the buyout of the Hand to Heart Foundation are to refer them to Stark Industries legal department for review, which is to saw, polite rejection. Then what I will do is personally review every record associated with WH Pharmaceuticals to find out exactly what has your non existent panties in a knot that you want it so badly and so quickly that you're willing to come into my office and show your ass in such a manner that you just have. Then I will find your three best subsidiaries and conduct the most hostile takeover in the history of modern business. That is not a threat, Emma. You know me better than that. I don't make threats, I make promises. Don't threaten me Emma Frost - the Ice Bitch routine doesn't work on me and I will not hesitate one second to demonstrate to you why you are number seven on the Forbes list and I am number one."




There is a vein in Emma's forehead that's now visible that wasn't, before. Her neck tendons are shifting beneath her skin and she gingerly closes her super-razor-thin laptop on her lap. "Tony," she says in a very careful voice, "You will do no such thing. To be frank, I never caused you a moment's grief. I stay out of your business and you stay out of mine. I have no interest in making your life more difficult, nor in making threats. All I want is to close the lid on WH Pharmaceuticals. The reasons I have are personal. If they were professional, I'd have happily told you all the reasons — I've already given you more than enough reason to cut ties with them, all of which are quite valid. There are other pharmaceutical companies that are of better quality and more deserving of your monies than WH Pharmaceuticals. You are only threatening — forgive me, promising — to do these things out of spite for me. From where this hostility comes, I am unaware. Perhaps I am not the warmest of people, nor the most polite, but I have given you no good reason for such vitriol against me and my aims," she pauses, taking a breath.

"Is it simply that you wish to get one over on me? To prove you are bigger, better, badder, stronger?" she wonders. "I haven't a penis, nor a set of balls by which we can measure our greatness, Anthony. However…" she pauses and begins to stand. "Since you seem set to be against me because I will not share private information with you, I will take my leave and consider this a slap to the face," she leaves her coffee cup cooling on the desk and turns for the door. Jherika is already there and waiting, her head downcast. Today has not been a good day, and Emma will NOT be in the mood for anything… Well, she won't be in the mood for anything, at all.




Tony Stark sits back, "I only ask for complete disclosure. Might I mention, Emma, that you were the one that started in on me from the moment you walked into this office? When confronted with such an attitude, I only give as good as I get. If you want to take this off the record, and make it a closed door, personal conversation, I'm all ears. Tell me what's going on. I'll work with you. Come in here with the Ice Queen routine you give everyone else, I'm gonna turn into Coldmiser. It doesn't have to be this way." - his tone neutral. He's not even annoyed.




Pepper Potts startles from what she's working on so intently on her tablet when Emma moves to stand, and is about to do likewise to 'see' the other two women out when Tony speaks up. She ends up standing by her chair and tablet doing the whole wait and see routine.
Tony Stark watches Emma evenly, "Let's send Pepper and Jherika into Pepper's office. They can have a coffee and chill out. You can tell me what's going on, and we'll work it through."




Emma pauses and turns to look back at Tony. "The 'Ice Queen routine,' as you call it," she says softly, "is simply part of who I am. Life has not been fun and games for all of us, Mr. Stark. Some of us didn't grow up to become cheerful alcoholics. Some of us grew up to be cold-hearted bitches. The fact that I brought this to your attention, at all, was a favor to you, if you take a moment to let that occur to you." She shifts from one foot to the other, "In business, it's easy for you to be a happy-happy-joy-joy professional and still make deals, still earn respect. If I so much as relax, even an inch, I am viewed as 'soft,' and 'pliant.' Even worse, a 'woman,' as though that were some flaw by which to condemn me," she says, looking back at Pepper for a moment, her expression hard.

Then, those icy blue eyes turn back and level with Tony's gaze. "I said my reasons are personal. I don't air my personal business for a reason. The fact that I told you, at all, that my reasons were personal…is giving you more information than I'd give anyone else," she glares. With a wave of her hand, she sends Jherika to go off with Pepper…and she sits back down. "Why do you expect me to air my dirty laundry with you? Is my life to be a soap opera for your entertainment? Why should I make allowances for you, Tony?" she asks, her brow actually furrowing, now. At least she's showing emotion. That she's offended is quite clear.




Pepper Potts quickly scoops up her phone and tablet and exits with Jherika, leading the younger assistant to her office and letting the girl take a load off. Figuratively and literally. She leaves her phone and tablet where she can see them, so she'll know the moment Tony wants them to return.




Tony Stark stands, "Because you know me better than that, Emma. You know I'm not going to judge you, if you act in a way that's human." Tony takes an exasperated breath. "I treated you the way I would treat any other CEO who would barge into my office the way you did, say what you say, and made the requests of me you did for the same reasons. I don't treat you like a woman, Emma - forgive me, it's not because I don't recognize it, I sure as hell do - but because I do see you as an equal. If Justin Hammer came in here with half of what you did, I'd have told him to get the hell out before he even finished the why."

Tony comes out from behind the desk and stands in front of it, just steps away from Emma. "You're right. But you're right because you have the privacy I don't get. Just like your personal details are personal? I don't get that. Everything I do winds up on TMZ or in the Tattler. So no, you're right, things are fun and games for anyone. We seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum, so let's meet in the middle and I'll do what I can to help you out."




Emma's full, pretty lips…are pursed in a most irritated fashion as the doors close behind Pepper and Jherika — who is silently crying ("I just hate it when she gets upset," she tearfully admits to Pepper.) Emma's pale blue eyes stare fixedly at a spot on Tony's desk and very pointedly not on Tony. She could so easily fuck his day. She could SO easily force him to do what she wants without giving an inch. She grits her teeth hard, her jaw muscles rolling. But, she's been trying to rely more on her business acumen and less on her telepathy, lately. Probably should've known better than to try to match business balls with Tony, though.

"I am not a human, Tony," she says simply. "I am Emma Frost. That means something. It means something because I've earned the reputation, the weight that name carries," she finally lifts her eyes, again, to meet his. "You want me to confide in you as though you're my priest taking confession? I have no god but myself. You want me to confess my secrets to you as though you were my best friend? I can trust no one but myself. I don't keep secrets to spite you, Tony. They are to protect myself and maintain my reputation. Tell me why you deserve special treatment. I have given you plenty of valid reasons to withdraw support from a company that, sooner or later, will crumble. I even have other avenues I can go down, though I preferred approaching you and attempting to appeal to your better nature. Perhaps…I will have to seek those other avenues," she says, and she doesn't sound best pleased about the idea.




Pepper Potts tries to console Jherika, setting a box of tissues within easy reach along with a glass of water. "I don't like seeing Tony upset either, but I think I know where he was going with that. He was treating her exactly how she wanted to be treated — as a professional equal — and pointing out that she didn't offer him the same courtesy. I'm confident that everything will work out for the best for everyone."




Tony Stark crosses his hands in front of his chest, "I'm not saying I deserve special treatment. I'm not saying I want you to confess or confide. I'm not your best friend, and I think I'm the worst qualified priest in the history of any religion. But..I'm not the man I was a year ago. I'm not even the same man I was six months ago. Things have changed. I've changed, and I'm trying to do the right thing by people. Do you think I want to do everything I said I would do? No! Do I want to help you? Of course I do. But you and I both know that what's wrong with that company isn't exactly as you're spelling it out, and it also can be corrected ahead of time so that's no real news either way. I don't want to know why it's person to hold anything over you, I want to know why it's personal so I know how best to help. For what you want me to do, the cost is building some trust with me. I know it's not easy to do, I suck at it. But I'm willing to give the same thing in return."




Jherika takes three tissues and dabs at her eyes and nose, sniffling. "No, that's how she treats everyone. Even me. It's just… She's so guarded. She has to be. .." the assistant trails off. Then, leaning forward, she whispers, "Sometimes, at night, when I'm running around doing things in her house like putting up her dry cleaning or setting paperwork out for the morning… I hear her crying in her room." Jherika's lip quivers, "She's so strong, to do this all on her own… She can't help how she is…" Jherika sighs and blows her nose.

Emma's jaw juts out and she closes her eyes in an attempt to keep her temper, "For me to explain to you why it's personal…would be for me to tell you a secret. I don't tell my secrets. Especially not in the room of a man known for his genius with technology. I could be being recorded in a hundred different ways, right now, as I speak." She continues, "We may have sent Pepper and Jherika out of here, but there is no privacy here for me. And, who's to say you wouldn't go telling every person you met: 'Haha, guess what Emma Frost told me the other day,' hmm? What could you do to give me something in return, to help build trust?" She looks back at Tony, now, her eyes slightly bloodshot from the strain of keeping herself under control.




Tony Stark holds up a hand, "JARVIS. Cease monitoring of my office until a time I tell you to resume. Pepper, take Jherika into your office for whatever you guys want, coffee, cars, whatever."

He then looks Emma right in the eyes, and says "I'll give you something that inside of a year, will change the entire game we play. One piece of information known to me and only to me. Not even Pepper knows it. That's how closely guarded it is. You give me that, and trust me, what I give you will be of equal or greater value."




Pepper Potts wants to ask about that 'has to be' part, but knows better. The girl is confiding something she shouldn't, and Pepper won't break that confidence. "Tony has his share of demons too, believe me." No, she won't elaborate on that. Let the girl think Pepper's alluding to the drinking and the sleeping about. "The best that you and I can do for them is to always be there, ready to help however we can, and maybe sometimes anticipate what they might need. And, most of all, show them that we won't treat them any differently for being humans with human weaknesses."

She hears Tony's suggestion of going for coffee or cars (what?), and realizes that means the two CEOs are going to be a while. She reaches for her tablet and quickly clears Tony's schedule for the rest of the day (to be modified again when/if he has time for anything else). "So, did you get a chance to eat breakfast this morning?" Pepper asks Jherika. "I know a place that makes amazing Czech kolaches, and this time of morning, we'll be able to get them still hot from the oven."




Jherika smiles tearfully at Pepper and nods, sniffling and dabbing at her nose with the tissue. She can't confide in Pepper about she and Emma not being humans, as they're both mutants, but… The sentiment still stands, certainly. She beams as Pepper asks her out to breakfast, "Well, I had one of those shakes that's supposed to be, like, a full meal, because I can down those in under two minutes. But, I've never had Czech food and I'm always into trying new cuisine!" She hops up and begins following Pepper out to the elevators.

Emma inhales deeply and shifts, ever so slightly, in her seat so that she's technically facing Tony. She is quiet for a moment, giving Tony time to examine her pretty face and nice outfit while she mulls over her reservations. "I will show you," she says simply. "It's probably best if you close your eyes for this," she says and closes her own eyes in preparation. She can do this in a smart way. She can tell some of her secret without giving everything away. Some of it, the most important part of it.

**** There is nothing. Darkness. The sounds of the office's heating going. And, then, there is a face. And, Tony knows this man is Winston Frost. He sees this man — perhaps in his late thirties — go from a still portrait…and melts into an action sequence, where in a boy, perhaps 16, with blonde hair and slightly familiar features, is dragged from the home by burly men. The boy is screaming and crying, 'No, please, father! Please!' There is the sound of others crying, girls… Winston yells, 'No son of mine's gonna be a faggot!' And, the front door slams as a motor revs and dies away.

A montage flashes, now. Winston is slapping a girl. Her hair is brunette, she is probably 12. He slaps, again, a girl with black hair, 9. He slaps, a woman whose makeup is smeared and her expression is dazed. Over, and over, and over again. Slap, slap, slap. Slap, slap, slap. His expression is ugly, his face is monstrous. He is nothing but hate and rage. Hate and rage. ****

Emma's eyes are open and her face is a serene mask of calm. {Did I share enough?} comes her disembodied voice. Her mouth didn't move.




Tony Stark nods, "That makes sense - more than enough. Now, it is my turn, is it not?"




Emma shakes her head, "No. I don't want it. Just… withdraw support. I'll make sure the employees are hired elsewhere. There's only one person I'm looking to hurt in this situation." She stands and moves to the door. Her hand on the doorknob, she looks back at Tony. "Not all of us grew up with the ability to not be ice cold. Make your return favor a promise to leave me the fuck alone," she says with a small hint of bitterness in her voice, perhaps even tears making her eyes extra sparkly, and she walks out the door.




Pepper does indeed take Jherika out for Kolaches, and buys enough freshly baked ones to share with Emma and Tony, bringing everything back for fear of being gone too long. Good thing, too, as Emma's on her way out just as they return. "Stay who you are, Jherika. That'll help Ms. Frost more than anything else." She lets the pair leave, then takes the kolaches up to Tony's office, setting the two she'd bought for him on a plate to claim.


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