Dinner and a Brainstorm

Summary:
January 26, 2015: Pepper Potts didn't get to Metropolis over the weekend, so she relocates there partly to avoid the winter storm descending on NYC, and partly to make sure Howard, Jim, and Tony aren't neglecting themselves working. Two out of three ain't bad.

Antiques Row, Park Ridge - Metropolis

Park Ridge is Metropolis' oldest incorporated borough dating back to the 1800's. In the beginning this is where the cities wealthiest families had their homes, though the rise of St, Martin's Island has made the migration of such things out of this borough. Despite that it still remains a powerfully historic region and the area remains a stronghold of old money and the upper middle class.

Currently banners claiming this area as the "City of Yesterday" hang above the cobblestone streets keeping it shown that it is still loved by the local artists, craftsmen and carpenters that maintain the Victorian Era architecture down to the road that centralizes and is called Antiques Row.

The streets are normally clean, broad and well lit, the homes manicured and well maintained and the businesses all sleek and orderly. Currently, though, it is all but devoid of life due to the city's current electrical problems.


Characters

NPCs

  • Dmitri, Stark Industries Security
  • Howard Stark's guards

Mood Music:
[*None]


The restoration of the electrical grid to the city of Metropolis is ongoing. Nearly all of the 250+ clean energy generators shipped down from Stark Industries are in place, keeping the winter chill at bay for the city residents, if not quite enough to get businesses back up and running full tilt. Some businesses are open as they're important to the infrastructure — grocery stores and the like — but for the most part, Metropolis is still eerily quiet most of the time.

It's been a Monday. Pepper's weekend was more than busy enough to keep her from getting to Metropolis to check on Tony, Howard, and Jim. So, in order to make up for that, she texted everyone that she would be bringing dinner for them, and arranged to make use of one of the old Victorian houses-turned-bed & breakfast on Antiques Row. A good choice, too, as the old house still has the original coal furnace in the basement, functioning wood fireplaces in every major room, and even a chandelier with candle sconces for lighting.

Pepper's original thought had been to bring takeout from one of Tony's favorite places, but then she found the building and changed her plans at the last moment. Having taken the afternoon off from SI, Pepper came down here early to get the old house opened up, aired out, and warmed up while a small portable generator supplied enough electricity to get the kitchen appliances working. By the time she'd asked for Jim, Howard, and Tony to arrive, the old Victorian house is the only warm and brightly-lit building on the otherwise silent cobblestone street, the buttery color of firelight spilling out of the front windows.

~

It seems to be a race for tardiness tonight. Jim's been running like crazy since he's been making his correlations between the old leyline charts, the Metropolis power grid, and various other and sundry matters. It's awesome that Pepper called him to dinner, but, well, between schlepping gear for work and doing the research he's been swamped.

The hint of storms on the horizon does drive him to be a bit more expeditious in his duties, though right now the big concern is not getting run over by locals who forgot what it was like to not only drive during the winter, but in the darkness that has been permeating the Big Apricot of late.

A bit worn, salt-crusted around the ankles, and trudging along with two bundles of firewood he finally makes his entrance and nearly collapsees by the door.

"Whew. Forgot what it was like to haul wood around. Ugh."

~

Pepper Potts hurries out from a side room. "Jim, hi. Don't worry about it at all. You're the first one here." She reaches to take the firewood from Jim, and oofs. A moment later, a young man that Jim would recognize as part of SI security arrives from another part of the house to take the firewood and disappear with it. He makes carrying the stuff seem effortless, the jerk.

"Make yourself at home," Pepper tells Jim. "I've rented the entire house for the week, so you can work from here if you want." Probably better than a hotel, or a cot in the side room of an office building.

~

Jim lets out a quiet sigh of relief as the load is taken away then glances around.

"Good call, though I'm a bit worried about how this is all going to shake out. At least it isn't directly on a line or a node. Not sure what was going on with the old city planners?"

He finds a corner and sits down, dropping a satchel onto the table and pulling out some papers. "It's not all bad news. I mean, between Gotham and New York it's not as bad as it could be. Wish I could be helping more with the grunt work, though." He rubs his eyes and considers. "Awfully empty for just a handful of us, we getting another team down?"

~

Pepper Potts follows and sits in an adjacent chair, currently dressed casually in a button-up, jeans, and casual flats. "I could invite another team down if that would make you feel better, but the cistern on the roof has only so much water in it and there aren't any deliveries coming in until after that winter storm passes through. I'm," she hesitates briefly, "going to be stuck here as well until it passes. Why I asked Dmitri along." Not to mention, the security guard was practically invaluable in helping haul enough groceries for five or six days through cars and private planes.

~

While more reliable than his son in terms of invitations, Howard is still just as likely to get wrapped up in his work. It's only a persistent alarm on his phone that he can't figure out how to permanently snooze (damn non-intuitive UI) that finally convinces him to actually go. That, and many of the crews have already been sent home in advance of the storm. They need to get back to New York, or to other areas with full power.

One of the reasons that he's not really fond of going far from the worksite (aside from lingering agoraphobia) is the escort. The attack on Stark Tower might not have been an actual attempt to capture him, but that's still a very real danger. Which means he travels by armoured car with two guards, one of whom is a mutant. "Is Pepper opening a B&B? Jeez." He steps out of the car and tugs off a pair of horn-rimmed sunglasses. He's cleaned himself up (silver suit, complete with waistcoat) and looks less agitated than the last time Pepper saw him. "You boys are gonna come stand guard at the door whether I ask you to or not, right?" The stony faced-guard nods once. "Right. Have fun, then." And then he's mounting the steps of the house and knocking on the door.

~

Pepper Potts leaves Jim to get his satchel sorted out and goes to answer the door, smiling when she sees Howard there along with the two SI guards who have been tailing him. "You made it. Dinner's still in the oven, so you're not overly late. Please, come in."

~

Jim starts to stand up to answer the door when Pepper gets it, and he flumphs back down some. And then he sees who it is, and he actually does a reasonable approximation of snapping to attention. The portly fellow lets Mister Stark go where he needs to, but can't help but stare a bit.

The rumors inside the company had been swirling for at least weeks, the news conference was a thing of itself, but this was the second time that Jim has met a living legend (definition and mileage of the term may vary) and he's still not gotten over a bit of the awe and hero - worship.

"Mister Stark, sir! Pepper's told me some amazing things about your work! It's an honor and a pleasure to meet you!" A hand is extended as the salt - and - peppered fellow goes partial fanboi….

~

"I'm not overly late? Damn. I should have ran a few more tests and let the car go around the block a few times. This is bad for my reputation." Howard's charming smile is coming more easily the last few days. "Hello, Pepper. I feel like I should have brought a hostess gift. I used to have a girl who thought of that kind of thing for me. Don't suppose you'd let me hire one?" Hard to tell if he's being serious. If she lets him, he'll kiss her on the cheek. "How're you holding up?"

He turns when Jim approaches, an eyebrow lifted. "Hi there." He shakes the other man's hand amiably enough. "Friend of Pepper's, I take it?"

~

Pepper Potts invites the two guards in as well, letting them know that there's a carriage house around back that's been converted to a proper garage that'll fit their vehicle, and Dmitri's around here somewhere. She follows Howard back over to where Jim is starting to get all flustery, and is at least polite enough to not call him on it. She does chuckle open at Howard's comment about not being overly late, though. "Next time I'll make sure to put the wrong time on the invitation so you'll be sure to be at least fifteen minutes late. And you know you don't have to ask me for permission to hire an assistant. You can just let HR know, and they'll put out the posting for you."

She then glances at her wristwatch. "I'm going to go check on dinner." She leaves them to chat (sorry, Jim, no backup for you), to go make sure the pot roast is done and get a last few things sorted out. She's still by no means an accomplished cook, and is yet again glad she asked Dmitri to accompany her. Apparently, he CAN cook, and has been handling the majority of the kitchen duties while she did everything else. It would almost be enough for her to consider firing the kid and making Tony insanely jealous, but apparently she's not Dmitri's type. She's too… female.

~

"Actually, sir, not only is she a friend, but I work for the company. Pepper brought me on in a tight job market and gave me a chance."

"I work over at QA, and I'm really glad to meet you. I'd been kind of asking about helping you out, and she even thought it might be a good idea, but things have gotten a lot crazier of late and you know how it is with the project and all the different issues clashing back and forth?"

He gives Pepper a glance and a raised eyebrow… does he let the older Stark know about the — oh, hey, where are you going, Pepper! He slumps his shoulders a bit. "Sorry. There's some things that we're kind of keeping quiet right now because operational security. We don't know if the walls have ears and I don't know if you're on the short list for the info."

Though, the table he was sitting at has reasonably detailed maps of the Metropolis, Gotham, and New York City power grids along with some 'other' maps that are a bit more arcane. Literally.

~

Howard glances after Pepper and then looks back to Jim. He thumbs after her, "She's learning how to handle me already. I should be worried." He steps further into the room and away from the door, but it's clear he's not trying to walk away from Jim. He eyes the maps on the table, but doesn't approach them quite yet.

"I think Ms. Potts knows that it wouldn't be in her best interest to keep much from me. Besides, I can keep a secret." A little too well, if you ask Tony - and SHIELD. He did, after all, hide his own LMD lab so well that it was lost for thirty years.

~

"Pepper is awesome people. Everything I'd ever wish or want to have in an employer, including a respect for personal boundaries and time."

And then the older gentleman's eyes track downward to the maps and up comes the right hand to cover Jim's face briefly.

"It's… not so much just Pepper keeping secrets from you but.. well, your son is kind of busy right now and if he knew about all this stuff it'd really be a distraction. A lot of folks have a hard time grasping a different framework of power and energy distribution, and…"

Well, hell, Jim, why not just tell him all about it?

"Why don't you have a seat, Mister Stark, and I'll try to boil it down?"

He motions to the chair he wasn't sitting in.

~

Howard motions towards Jim and lifts a shoulder. He takes the offered seat. He can't, however, keep his eyes off the papers. It's schematics! He's an engineer! It's the equivalent of asking him to not look at a beautiful woman. "You know who I am, right? Then you know you don't have to boil things down. I know how frustrating that can be."

~

Pepper Potts spends several minutes working with Dmitri on getting the dinner meal served up and set on the dining room table — which likely causes all sorts of delicious aromas to start wafting through the old house — and invites Howard's two guards to join them as well. Sorry if that offends anyone's old school sensibilities.

She reappears in the sitting room doorway. "Dinner's ready if you'd like to come to the dining room. Oh, and what drinks would you prefer? We have some sodas and a rosewater lemonade, and," she leans back to look toward the kitchen, "one bottle of scotch. I couldn't really fit any more than that in the rental car's trunk." How much food did she bring??

~

"Okay. So the Enochian equivalencies involved here are on an order of magnitude that exceeds the blood mana quotient and the mandelbrot array. With such a matter at hand, you'd expect an imbalance of elemental aspects, but within this framework here in Metropolis it is a balanced system."

Jim does know who Mister Stark is, if but by history, company lore, and reputation. If the man says Jim doesn't have to boil things down, then by god he's going to go all tiers of esoteric on the fellow. Sometimes, this can be dangerous…

"The upshot being is that there's too much synergy in disparate energy systems that shouldn't be there, and the current thinking is that it is someone's effort to align things in a particular fashion."

Pepper pokes her head in and he starts folding up the maps some. "Let's get these stowed before we eat. While we're secure here, don't want a Raiders of the Lost Ark moment trying to save a burning map or three. And yes, those sorts of folks may be involved in at least one leg of this."

Nazis, HYDRA… meh, they all kind of look the same after a while, right?

~

Inviting the guards to dinner doesn't insult any sensibilities that Howard has, but it might decrease the effectiveness of security. Presumably someone's still standing watch. As for his own guards? They're actually happier if they can keep the elder Stark where they can see him. "One bottle of scotch is just fine, as long as it's the right bottle," he drawls. "And now I really wish I hadn't come empty-handed." Because of course he brought his own private stash. It's in his office back at the work site.

He turns his attention back to Jim, though he stands in preparation for moving to the dining room. He rests his hands in his pockets and cranes his neck towards the other man. He didn't understand all that. He doesn't like that he didn't understand all that. Damnit. He does have some knowledge of the occult, because that's how HYDRA and the Nazis found several dangerous artifacts. That convinced him to pay attention to old stories. But /actual/ magic? Not just alien science? Come on. He may not be a magical energy expert, but he has excellent pattern recognition, and a talent for distilling ideas. "You're talking about leylines."

~

Of course it's the right bottle. It's the highest quality of Tony's favorites, and Pepper had no qualms about snagging said bottle. Mostly because she HAS noticed Tony making a point of NOT drinking as much lately. One bottle less for him to try and avoid is only better for him. She smiles at the men and disappears around the corner, and finding the dining room is a no-brainer. It's the other ground floor room currently with the fireplace running, a huge table with all the linens, and serving platters covering… okay, only about half of the huge table is going to be needed, and there are really only three serving platters plus a basket of bread with a cloth on top. Oh, and the silverware around each place setting is incorrect for a formal dinner. But still. There's the fireplace and an orange candelabra for lighting.

"I promise I'm not trying to make this feel like we've time warped back into a Mary Shelley book," she tells the men as everyone save one of Howard's guards settle in at the table. "This area's got minimal generator coverage, and the one I brought is powering the kitchen."

~

Jim takes the packed maps along with to the dining room. He hasn't been drinking since the thaumaturgical situation was dropped in his lap. Too much work to do, too little time to do it in, and the big bird was locked down because it was a very bad big bird and nearly got the two of them killed.

"That's the common short - hand for some of what we're talking about. To put it into an engineering context, imagine someone trying to run a device of some sort off of diesel, solar, and kinetic energy all at the same time without some sort of common denominator, on the same grid, expecting some function or result to happen from juice being poured into the system. This is the concern a few of us have. Because if you could get all of those powers onto a perfectly symmetrical and equivalent framework and then add the oomph of modern scientific means with the resources we are putting into play…"

The portly fellow just sort of lets that trail off a bit as he lets the others sit down, waiting to sit until at least Pepper has.

"It's actually good for mood. These are the kinds of stories and tales that go well with a fireplace and the flickering night lights. When you expose this stuff to fluorescent lighting, it loses some of the context. And with these sorts of works, context can kill you if you're not careful."

~

Howard did not, in fact, install any robotic super-vision into his LMD. Still, he manages to find and open the scotch, even in candlelight. It's a gift. He nods approvingly at the label and finds the tumblers. The bottle is held up to the gathered by way of invitation, but even if no one else takes him up on it, he's going to help himself. You can't have a candlelit dinner without a drink. It's just not right. At least, not if your name is Howard Stark. All the while, he's churning through what Jim has told him. Before he addresses the science at-hand, he has the manners to say, "It all looks lovely, Pepper."

But then there's science to discuss. Sort of. He sits down and folds his hands together. "So what you're saying is…wait…are you saying they blew out the power grid by attacking leylines?" he holds up a hand. "Or do you think that's why we're having problems reinitializing the system?" Not that he believes it, but he wants to make sure he understands Jim's theory.

~

Dmitri accepts some of the scotch, and really, the kid's earned it having to deal directly with Pepper pretty much all day. Pepper declines, and then the serving platters are passed around. Pot roast — one of the few things Pepper feels confident she can cook without major disasters — a bowl of steamed crisp yellow squash and green zucchini, and a leafy green salad along with the bread. Wow, is Pepper hinting at something with the menu choices? "Oh, and there's cobbler with ice cream for dessert." Okay, maybe not.

~

The portly fellow shakes his head to decline. Lately, just having bottled fresh water has thankfully been enough. Simple pleasures for a man of simple tastes.

"I don't think they were attacking them directly? My gut feeling is that the grid was designed on multiple levels to support itself, with some safeguards put in to reinforce it. When the section was attacked, it caused a cascading effect as error and overflow crashed against each other, which kept feeding through the system until it all came down. And yes, I think it is definitely… no, I know it is involved somehow. There was an incident the other night where there was a generator that was holding a charge it couldn't. We managed to get it discharged and get that section of the grid isolated and reworked, but it's definitely something we're missing, some translation device we're not interpeting right would be my guess."

"Pepper, thank you very much for getting this lined up, this is awesome."

He does skip on the zucchini, though, not really his thing, though he takes a bit of extra salad to compensate. The mention of a dessert leaves him baffled a moment… how are they keeping it… oh, right, cold outside.

~

"Green apple cobbler?" says Howard cheekily as he notices a theme of the food. He sips the scotch and points towards Jim. "Look, I'm not discounting your theories, but you can understand why this intersection of science and magic might be a little hard for me to swallow." His eyebrows arch. "I mean, I grudgingly acknowledge that magic is a thing, because I've seen it with my own eyes. But I always thought of it as existing in a separate realm with its own set of rules. You're telling me they're overlapping? On the entirety of Metropolis' power grid?"

He doesn't mean to be rude when it comes to Pepper's cooking, but he's pretty distracted all of a sudden. There's also the part where he's a robot and he doesn't technically need to eat.

~

Pepper Potts doesn't take offense at Howard's apparent disinterest in the food, she knows he's a robot, and for him eating is usually just a formality. She does chuckle at the quip about the cobbler. "I argued for apple, but Dmitri flatly insisted on blackberry." The security guard in question just shakes his head bemusedly. And how the desserts are being stored? Yes, it is cold outside, but Pepper already mentioned that there's a small generator powering the kitchen.

Looking between the two men discussing the city's power grid problems, she distills what Jim said down to one thing. "Does this mean that the entirety of Metropolis' power grid is … acting like a capacitor or something?"

~

"And now you understand why I'm terrified of this whole thing."

For being scared out of his mind he's apparently holding himself together well enough.

"We're talking the sort of power that a small fission reaction would produce in just a few short minutes.. but with the grid, the 'capacity' for it is much greater. And yes, that's what I've been trying to chart out the past few days. If anything, I'd say it was about ninety to ninety - five percent overlap but with the recent additions we've been having to add in… that number is growing higher. Again, why it's gone from 'pet theory' to 'something that needs more investigation by some of the best minds we can get on it. But it's only Metropolis. New York and Gotham — both of their grids are… not nearly as organized, and Central Park was almost like a miniature version of what I'm talking about."

He takes a few moments to eat at his food and allow other comment. No sense in letting awesome good food go cold, after all.

"Huh."

Jim takes out the map, then the Gotham map and the New York map, and tries to put the three together as a single device, turning the maps slightly so they 'match up' the shared power lines, then leaves that at the end of the table and goes back to eating.

"I'll look at it after I'm done eating but… that could explain a great deal? Especially if you're effectively trying to add additional power supplies to what is technically a storage device?"

~

Howard goes quiet. And frowny. It's his Displeased Thinking Face - the face he gets when a solution doesn't immediately leap to the front of his brilliant mind. The food at this point, ends up being a good excuse. He starts to fill his own plate, but he takes rather modest amounts. Again, no disrespect meant. He can eat, but it's for show rather than a biological necessity. "If all of this is true," he says finally, after a few bites of food, "…why wasn't this a problem before? Metropolis never had any significant issues with is power grid before as far as I'm aware."

~

"I can answer that," Pepper offers, holding up her fork for emphasis. "These recent attacks have all been magic-related, and I'm willing to bet that these ley lines being pushed off of their natural courses into new alignments are to facilitate what Jim's seeing on his maps. Strengthening the links between the grids of the three cities. Basically linking three capacitors together. Doesn't that increase things exponentially instead of in a linear fashion?" Okay, she's NOT got any electrical engineering education AT ALL, but being around Tony as much as she has might have rubbed off on her a tiny bit. Of course, she could be completely barking up the wrong tree.

~

Jim's face mirrors Howard's. Because this is the thing that's been bugging him about this. The synergy is there, the symmetry. And then the fact that the grid was exc—

Then Pepper speaks up.

"That could also explain the three different 'flavors' we're encountering. We've been looking at this as one big picture, assuming that all the factors are in one pot, as it were. If it were three different systems trying to do their thing and then there was bleed - over… well, Mister Stark, what happens if you have a tip-top engine that's running perfect and then you add more energy to it? Ideally, it just runs faster or better but if it were designed to run at a given speed constantly…"

He takes out a notebook and scribbles a few notes into it before turning back to his food.

"I need to run this by someone who has a better handle on the actual 'mana' being pitched around."

~

Howard is keenly aware that he's not living up to his genius reputation right now. Leylines? Magic? Conflicting energy sources? It's giving him a headache. Never mind that he technically doesn't get them anymore. Somehow his hair has gone from smooth to ruffled, just by the force of his own frustration. His jaw sets. "What I wanna know is what we do about this. If you're right, then it's hampering our efforts to get the power back on." Sure, there are bigger problems, but that's the human element. He takes an angry swig of his drink.

~

Pepper Potts looks from Jim to Howard and their reactions to her guessing is… okay, maybe she shouldn't have bothered. She gets up to refill her glass with the pitcher of lemonade over by the bottle of scotch, and takes a moment to refill Dmitri's and Guard #1's glasses while she's standing. "What can we do to stop this capacitor effect? There are still people at serious risk of dying from the cold in this city. Especially tonight and tomorrow night with this winter storm rolling in."

~

Despite being out of his field of expertise, the insight that the elder Stark has been providing has been helpful and productive, and with Pepper things have pointed to a few options that Jim hasn't considered. Sometimes an outside perspective is needed.

"My best suggestion? Build in some dumping 'safeguards' to get the dirty power out of the system, and watch it like a hawk. Not going to know what it's going to do until it is lit up fully and as has been pointed out… things are getting dire. I think we can do it with what we've got, at least for the short term, but.. it can't be a long-term fix until someone goes in and finds out more? Someone who can actually use the stuff I'm just talking about?"

~

Howard thinks for a moment, then grabs for a napkin. He pulls a pen from his pocket and starts to sketch on the napkin. If all there are are linen napkins, he still draws on it. Sorry, Pepper. He refers to the schematics that Jim has out, then looks back to the napkin. He adds in a few details and jots down some calculations, then tosses the napkin towards Jim and sits back in his chair. He balloons up his cheeks.

He just drew the schematic for an overflow valve that can collect excess energy. Just like that. It takes into account several different power sources and includes a system for venting the energy safely if it hits capacity. What's even more remarkable is that they can build it with materials they already have. Very few pieces need to be custom-tooled. And he still looks disappointed in himself.

Howard Stark, ladies and gentlemen.

"It's only a stopgap. It doesn't fix anything."

~

Pepper Potts blinks at Howard, then puts down the lemonade pitcher and returns to her seat. Well, at least these linens are easy to replace. "If it'll help, Howard, even a stopgap would be immensely helpful at this point." The two security personnel are likely bored out of their minds at this point. Luckily, they're good enough to not mention it and slip away to do other things while Guard #2 of Howard's escort arrives to claim his portion of dinner.

~

Jim glances over the diagram, making a few marks. "Safety valves on boilers are just a stopgap to prevent an explosion, yet they're pretty much standard issue on all of them, right?" He makes a few more scribbles, then tosses the napkin back at Stark.

Napkin Tossing, ladies and gents, the new Olympic sport!

Jim's notes have highlighted a few areas where the few pieces needing to be custom-tooled could be reduced further using different construction materials that are also reasonably common. It'd definitely be a candidate for the Magic 'There I Fixed It', though….

~

"Nah, you're not getting the scale, here," says Howard. And then he starts talking about some high-level mechanical concepts and some problems with energy transference, and his reasons for custom-tooling those particular pieces. There's an aside to Pepper about getting the pieces they need in a rush - which shouldn't be a problem considering everyone they have contracted. He also makes a few other insights that cut right to the heart of the problem. The schematic gets denser and denser, until the pen starts bleeding so much into the fabric that it obscures the line. "I really should carry a notebook. I used to always carry one."

~

As that schematic gets denser… it starts to approximate the maps and designs from Gotham and New York. Jim just kind of gapes at it a bit…. "Well…. sonuva…"

~

Pepper Potts sighs at the napkin getting tossed back and forth after the fifth iteration. "Okay, if you set that thing on fire over the candelabra, you'll both start crying. Hang on a moment." She gets up from the table and leaves the room, then returns with both her tablet and a composition notebook and accompanying pencil case. "You can keep these if you want, Howard." Any of the items she just brought. She can always replace the tablet later, though she might want it for the next couple of days while she's snowed in here in Metropolis.

~

"What, are you kidding? It's all up here." Howard taps his forehead. Eidetic memory. Surprisingly, a feature of his human body, not an upgrade with his LMD one. Or perhaps not surprisingly, given his reputation and accomplishments. Still, he takes the notebook with a grateful look and re-sketches the schematic. His lines are neater, more delicate, more precise now that he's working with actual paper. It's easy to tell that he comes from an era when schematics were all hand-done. It's half science, half art. For most of Jim's suggestions, he has a reason for dismissing them, but a few do get integrated. By the time he finishes, they've got a workable design.

~

Heck, even a couple of ideas getting implemented into a Stark design is a huge feather in the cap for a fellow who never even went to college and spent two decades in retail. And the lines and design? Jim had stuff like that in junior high school… that's one of the reasons he DIDN'T go into engineering because he was too ham-fisted to do mechanical drawing right.

When it's done he gives a nod. "Better than any drafting program I know could do, if you ask me?"

The best compliment he can think of for the displaced engineer….

~

Pepper Potts sees that the 'safety valve' schematic seems pretty much done, and nods mostly to herself. "Good. Then all of this has already been worth it. Now. Who's ready for dessert?"


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