Office Visit

Summary:
June 20 2014: Pepper Potts has a visitor to her office that… isn't exactly on her schedule.

Stark Tower, Pepper's Office

A monument to the sky with a certain someone's name plastered on it.


Characters

NPCs

  • JARVIS

Mood Music:
[*]


Aspect has gone to a lot of effort to find a time and place where he could drop in on Pepper without getting held up by security or have to commit a crime. And you know what? That's hard. So finally he settled on 'Plan B: The direct approach.'

Plan B has a number of disadvantages. One, it meets Pepper on her own ground where she's the strongest. Two, it places her support structure right at hand. Three, it involves going right up to the Stark building and asking to see her. Buuuuuut… that's finally what he ends up doing. Feeling very silly and not really dressed business like at all. Just jeans, tan army boots, a tee shirt and a ball cap. The receptionist doesn't approve, he thinks.

"Erm… Hi. Is Miss Potts available?"

*

The security guard, whose name tag declares him to be Dmitri, does look at Aspect for a moment, but it's as much to visually cheek for weapons as it is to evaluate his attire. Then when he speaks, it's with a faint Slavic accent even though his English is flawless.

"Do you have an appointment, sir?" At least he seems to be using the same politely neutral tone he used to send away a man in a very nice suit just a few moments before.

*

Nope. He doesn't. And he wasn't about to try hacking Stark systems to give himself one. Besides, he's sure Pepper has her schedule memorized anyway. She seems the type. "No, but if you could tell her I'm her contact from Aspect Systems Incorporated. The matter is… well, not hugely urgent but relatively important." Hopefully they'll tell her. And hopefully she'll take the hint. Hopefully.

*

Dmitri doesn't so much as pick up a phone or type anything, but after just a few seconds and a glance at his desk's integrated display, he pulls out a visitor's badge to offer. "If you'll take the first elevator, Mr. Aspect." He gestures toward the nearby bank of elevators.

*

Jericho… isn't sure whether to be worried or relieved that he was expected. Regardless, he clips the badge on and walks toward the indicated elevator. He gets the feeling that wandering around randomly would be a Very Bad Thing.

"Great… what floor is she on?" He asks himself as he steps in and looks to see what the controls look like. Maybe one is labeled 'To Pepper Pott's Office.' Or maybe not.

*

The elevator starts moving the moment the doors close, having not waited for Jericho to press a button. As the elevator smoothly rises, a cultured- sounding British voice that might be familiar to Aspect speaks over the conveyance's speakers.

"Miss Potts has asked me to inform you that she may still be on a phone call when you arrive at her office. And, I must please request that you refrain from attempting to employ the wireless interface equipment you have on your person. Any attempts to access Stark computer systems without authorization will result in your being forcibly removed from both the building and whatever wireless connections you may have established." And, almost as if it had been planned, the moment the voice stops speaking, the elevator doors open.

*

"Never crossed my mind." Jericho mutters. Which is a lie. It has crossed his mind several times. However, he isn't stupid. There's a chance he can get the information he's after without resorting to subterfuge. Which is… unusual and kind of refreshing, to be honest.

The moment the doors open he steps forward. There she is and sadly not in a floor length evening gown. Well… it's not exactly business attire is it? He approaches the desk of the person who is rumored to be the second (possibly first depending on which rumor you listen to) most powerful person in all of Stark Industries, stopping about eight or so paces off, just far enough that he's not clearly crowding the desk while she's on the phone.

*

Pepper Potts looks up and smiles a hello to Aspect when he enters her field of sight, holding up one finger to ask for just a moment longer, then returns her attention to her phone call. But even so, she stands from her desk (yay wireless headset) and gestures for Aspect to have a seat. She then lifts an antique teapot and matching cup to silently offer the young man a beverage.

*

Tea. Tea seems like a distant luxury from a faraway land. Sure, he could brew it at any time. It's cheap and not hard to make. But making it right always seemed to be something best reserved for quieter, more peaceful times and he's had precious few of those. So yes, he would like some tea and gratefully accepts the cup as he sits down.

He's quiet and fairly respectful. Pepper could have, after all, sic’d the police on him as easily as tracked him down herself, so he's willing to take on faith that she has good intentions… or at the very least, neutral ones. Quiet however, is the order of the day for now so he looks about the office. No detective is he but he's grown fairly good at making basic observations that can be useful.

Pepper's office is all modern furniture in glass and pale hardwood, simultaneously sleek and invitingly comfortable. The credenza that would contain a group of crystal liquor decanters in anyone else's office instead holds teapots in a variety of sizes and materials, matching cups, and easily two dozen tins often, each one neatly labelled. The tea poured is a smooth Chinese Yunnan, and Pepper refills her own cup while finishing the phone call. She puts the headset on her desk and takes a deep sip of her tea.

"So, Aspect. How can I help you today?"

*

How to best approach this? Well, beyond 'politely' because that seems to go without saying. Jericho takes a sip of tea if only to buy himself time to consider his words.

"Miss Potts. Thank you for seeing me after our last… encounter." Yeah, sure, he hadn't personally put a gun on her, but that does tend to be off putting to most people. Well… right to the point then?

"I'm pretty good at staying off the radar and covering my tracks. How did you find me that night? I suppose I'm lucky it was you and not someone else but the fact that I could be tracked at all is fairly dangerous to me."

*

Pepper Potts ahs at Jericho's question as if she'd been expecting it. "I'll be honest with you. I consider it a good day when I don't snarl my phone so badly that it has to be reset back to factory default."

"Miss Potts, your phone has not required a software reset in two hundred sixty seven days, three hours, and forty one minutes."

Pepper - just shakes her head good-naturedly. "I didn't track you down, JARVIS did."

*

"Jarvis. He's the… tech expert you mentioned. He must be pretty good. I'm not the best there is, Miss Potts but if I can say so without sounding like a grade A jerk, I'm pretty close. And I've got advantages that few can match, so it's a rare day that someone can not only put one over on me but do so without me knowing."

Jericho might in fact be a grade A jerk… but it's not because of his ego. "Still the fact that your man could do so is… worrisome to me."

*

Pepper Potts manages to refrain from chuckling, as Aspect seems honestly concerned. She pulls a file folder with some documents inside and offers it to Jericho. "I suspect you're familiar with a standard corporate non-disclosure agreement ?"

*

That draws a small smile and a raised eyebrow. "Once upon a time I'd signed a lot of them. Do you really trust me with that though?" Now he's probing, just a little. "If you've done any research on my handle, I'm sure you've discovered it's connected to all kinds of criminal acts."

Trust is nice and hell, he'll sign the thing after he reads it if it'll make her feel better, but he's also curious about what Pepper knows.

*

Well, JARVIS did say you might want to pick your battles a little more carefully, but he didn't give me all the details." If Jericho does read that NDA form through, he'll find that it's pretty far from a 'standard' document. What isn't seriously legally binding is either almost eerily specific about what Aspect does 'for a living' or is absurd bordering on downright silly.

*

Living is what Jericho does for a living. Seriously. Staying alive and keeping his friends beyond the reach of their enemies occupies most of his time right now. And he is reading that document, his expression is growing more and more confused by the moment.

"I… what's… this?" He holds up the paper, having stopped at a clause that included a bit of legalese he couldn't quite parse but might possibly have been referring to streaming internet videos of screaming goats. He's not real sure, he doesn't speak lawyer.

*

Pepper Potts clearly has to work to keep a straight face when she sees the section Aspect is questioning." That is an example of Tony's typical sense of humor. It seems to have rubbed off on JARVIS a bit."

*

Tony's sense of humor is the source of internet rumor so he's heard of it. After another long look at the NDA he signs it. Hey! He has a pen. He came prepared. "So does Mister Jarvis have a last name, Miss Pots? I'm given to understand that you work fairly closely with him, then?" It'd make sense. Chief Tech Guy and Tony's go to girl.

*

Pepper Potts simply smiles and takes and then takes a sip of her tea while JARVIS explains to Aspect exactly who and what he is, and very likely simultaneously explaining why the hacking attempts would not be taken kindly.

*

"An AI? Stark's been sitting on a bloody AI and been using it as his personal Siri?" That's a bit much for Jericho to fathom but… it is Stark. He shakes his head.

"JARVIS it's not like I don't trust you… uh… okay, I'll be honest, I'm really not sure about that part. But are you keeping data on my location? I'd hate for certain people to get it.

*

"Mr. Trent," the AI offers seemingly patiently, "If anyone were to successfully extract data from my systems that I did not explicitly permit them to obtain, screaming goats would be the least of their concerns." After a moment's Pause, JARVIS asks ever so politely, "Shall I attempt to… delete your records? There is evidence of repeated alterations."

*

That draws a sigh from the hacker. "The bane of my life and I have been having a yearlong argument about whether or not I'm a terrorist, convicted felon, tax evader and have overdue library books. I'd like nothing better than to make those records go away but I'm quite sure someone will just put them back. I'm going to have to find out where they're storing them to fix that. Thank you though JARVIS."

He looks up at Pepper. "That's my endgame though. Disappear off their radar. Become someone else in a way they can't trace. One day… one day."

He pauses as a thought occurs to him. "Actually Jarvis… you've been tracing my signals yes? Just… keep doing that. But I'd appreciate if you'd tell me if you're gonna let anyone other than Pepper know where the hell I am."

*

Pepper fills her cup again while JARVIS replies, "Then I must inform, you, Mr. Trent, that should Sir ask, I will not withhold any information he requests. Maintaining a record of your whereabouts, though, is more than simple enough. Your neural interface is … unique in my experience."

*

Well… he's not an attractive woman. Nor a particularly attractive man. (He's not unattractive just not… particularly a standout). So… he's probably safe from Tony?

"Fair enough. I imagine you wouldn't withhold that information either Miss Potts?" The woman seems nothing if not principled. Which… well it's kind of nice actually, dealing with someone who has lines they won't cross. Frustrating at times, he can imagine, but he prefers that to most people he deals with. Even himself. There are not many lines he won't cross when it comes to certain things and he's proven it before.

"The interface is experimental… and has its downsides. So yeah, pretty unique. The only other nine I know about are locked away in a bunker somewhere. If the Army didn't destroy them, that is."

*

Pepper Potts looks at Aspect a bit concernedly at that, but now might not be the best time to ask what he means by 'the other nine'.

"Well, I'll be completely candid with you, Mr. Trent." She doesn't know his first name yet, and only knows Jericho's last name because JARVIS used it. "If I don't think a particular piece of information is Tony's best interest, I WILL refuse to share it with him. And he knows that. And he usually ends up asking JARVIS instead of me anyway. But, I don't see any reason why he'd ask about you, you're … well, you were below the radar. Showing up here might have changed that."

*

Jericho does wince at that, but it was a calculated risk. If there was a hole in his security he needed to plug that was a priority.

"I don't foresee giving Mister Stark a reason to pay attention to me, honestly, Miss Potts. I've no intention to target your networks nor personnel… unless they begin to be utilized against me. Seems like that wouldn't happen, though. Between you and JARVIS, this is as tightly run a ship as I've ever seen. Do you think Mister Stark would take notice of my simple presence?"

*

Pepper Potts smiles reassuringly and shakes her head no at that. "Very likely he wouldn't. You do a very good job of seeming to be completely unremarkable. Now, I have one last very personal question for you."

*

Honest. Straightforward, to the point. "I think you've earned at least that much, Miss Potts, considering how kindly you've dealt with me. Ask away. I'll answer as best I'm able." His smile is small, but there.

*

Pepper Potts nods at that. "I have about forty five minutes of my lunch hour left. Would you care to join me? I'm afraid there won't be time for much more than running to the deli down the block or asking Food Service to send something up. I'd happily split my lunch with you, but I don't know if there's enough to go around."

*

Now Jericho really smiles. "Of course, Miss Potts, it would be my genuine pleasure." He rises before she does. He does have some manners after all. "Shall we, then?"

*

Pepper Potts smiles and nods and … goes to the credenza to reveal the cleverly hidden mini-fridge and microwave. "Pick your poison then. Deli, food service, or…" She peers at her lidded container from the fridge. "Baked whiting and steamed vegetables. JARVIS, what's on the menu downstairs today?"

*

"Chef Toby says the King Ranch Chicken is particularly good today, Miss Potts, though he wishes me to remind you that he is always delighted to prepare whatever you wish."

With a chuckle at the AI, she looks at Jericho again, to see what he's going to choose.

*

The hacker smiles. He's not usually so spoiled for choice. And he's a man of fairly simple tastes.

"To be honest all of that sounds pretty good. But what would you say to a deli sandwich and matzo ball soup. I'm a sucker for a good club myself."

Really, since this is her place she should have the choice, but she's being very nice. Hell he can see why Parti liked her. He likes her already and that's just how from she handled herself so well during the Gala, let alone how discreet she's been with his rather sensitive information… and how sharing she's been with her own.

*

Pepper Potts grins at Jericho and puts the container back into the fridge. "Deli it is. Tell Toby I'll let him cook for me tomorrow, JARVIS, then call the deli for me. My usual, plus a club and two cups of matzo ball soup."

"Very good, Miss Potts."

Pepper steps back to her desk to scoop up her shoulder bag and phone. "If we walk fast we'll get there right as the food's ready." Sounds like something she does regularly.

*

"Hot food is something I very much appreciate, Miss Potts." He says, following her lead out. Once they're clear of the building and he's sure as he can be that no one is listening in he nods to her. "By the way, you can call me Jericho."


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