1964-05-22 - New Secretary, Secretly From Russia, With Love.
Summary: The Black Widow, undercover as Natalie Rushman, comes to her first day on the job for Tony Stark, on a weekend, it's busy work at SI. But she does get to overhear, off the record of course, that one Clint Barton is getting invited to join the Avengers.
Related: None
Theme Song: "From Russia With Love" by Matt Monro - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lcdmq07u2T8
clint black-widow tony 

The sun shines through the large plate glass lighting up the offices on the eastern side of the building. The view from the window is exceptional; inarguably the best in any of the buildings in Manhattan. What is it that is said? Location, location, location. Stark Industries has that in spades.

It's morning. Sunday morning, actually, and there is no opening of the Stock Market today. Tony is standing at his desk anyway, notebooks splayed out, his board pulled up with paper pulled down and he's got his scrawlings on it; designs, undoubtedly. He's already hit his scotch; the crystal decanter is on the bar-top, though the stopper is in. The real 'clue', of course, is the fact that the tumbler is in hand, already down from the three, possibly four-finger level that he'd started out with. Music plays through the walls; guitar riffs are harsh and clear from this young upstart named Jimi Hendrix…


Not many places would demand work on the weekend, but then not many places are Stark Industries. With Tony Stark being one of the top young business men, let alone futurists in the country, it was certainly a lucrative job. One that would sway go-getters, and ambitious people to seriously covet the job. That's why Natalie Rushman, a young looking red head with a penchant for dressing sexy, made sure to have all her research done for her interview. No matter how much of a jerk Tony was or tried to be, she kept her cool and didn't flinch once. She just wanted the job.

So it makes sense that Natalie Rushman would show up to work on the dot, even on a Sunday, she's only just started but certainly had the drive and motivation to do well. After running her first set of errands of the day, delivering some important messages in person, and seeing to proper filing of some documents, she peeks her head into Tony's office. She'd knock, but with the music playing, it's doubtful he'd hear. "Mr. Stark? I'm done with the filings you asked me to do, and Mr. Bennet appreciates the package you had me deliver in person. Is there anything pressing or should I go back to the calendar…?" Yes, she certainly seems eager to please and attempting to endear herself on him. Nothing shocking for a secretary who just started.


Tony's gone through so many, many, many secretaries since Pepper left him that he simply has lost count. Each one of them bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready and eager to do well in the business world.

Each and every one of them didn't last a week. Some less than 24 hours.

Tony doesn't even look up from his work on the easel, the black marker in hand as he scribbles yet another equation along the side, drawing arrows, circles in what could be considered an arcane language. "Huh? Oh.. yeah, perfect. Just leave it over there." He sounds a distracted note as dark eyes look over the work he's put out, or rather, his notes that he's put out, and taking a step back, he lifts the glass of scotch to his lips once again, taking a half swallow. In the next minute, he twists around with a 'are you still here?' glance before he cants his head and his gaze lingers. There's no question she's got his attention, and his brow creases for a moment in thought before, "Your name again?"


Natalie nods as she silently goes about fixing the binder she took out back to its place, she understood from the hesitation and lack of focus that Tony is too busy to pay her any attention. At least not immediately. As she walks to the proper cabinet, she bends down low from the waist down to put the binder back in place, fully aware of how it'll make her skirt ride up and expose her garters. But then she did her prep on Tony, and she will use any potential method of either distraction or endearment to encourage him to keep her around the office as long as possible. After all, she's aware of the train worth of failed replacements for Virginia "Pepper" Potts. She has to stand out every which way, be it in professional conduct, in respecting Tony's privacy and need for quiet when appropriate, doing her job to perfection, and it certainly wouldn't hurt to provide a bit of eye candy.

She minds her business not asking about the strange scribbling Tony's doing, and not shoving her nose where it's not her business to be. Ever the dutiful secretary, she's just a woman, she doesn't understand complex scientific concepts, which is why it shouldn't be a problem to discuss those around her. After all, what harm could it bring? Just a bit of classified information she wouldn't understand anyway.

It's only when Tony looks her way and addresses her, that she quickly straightens her posture and turns to face him, her hands briskly straightening her skirt, as if consciously attempting to look as presentable a possible. "Mr. Stark…I'm sorry, I'll try to pick up my pace!" She giggles nervously, her words suggesting she read his referring to her as a hint she's overstayed in his office. Asked for her name, she already starts to shyly shuffle towards the door, still facing Tony as she answers, "Natalie. Natalie Rushman, Mr. Stark, Sir."


Garters. Garters on legs that go on for miles, ending in a body with an amazing shape. Of course he'd noticed it the other day when hiring her, right? Tony takes another swallow from the glass, emptying it in that last gesture before, "Natalie.. right. Uh.. I need you to get on the phone with Jean-Phillipe in Quebec. Valeant.. how's your French again? He's got a contract pending with us, and while we could use his product, there is no way I'm going to go with his prices and licensing. If need be, threaten him with a hostile takeover. Or, barring that, tell him we're negotiating with the Japanese. He'll love that." Valeant Pharmaceuticals. Established 1960. The products Tony is looking at are 'dermatological' and 'neurological'… for the moment. "We're not really. We just need a little time to get our R&D in the Neurology department up and running… which reminds me. We're due a shipment in on Monday. Make sure Warehouse knows that I'm keeping a tab on it. Just in case."

With that, Tony almost seems as if he dismisses her by virtue of just not talking to her, and he's back to his board, his lips moving without any sound coming. Black pen is raised but not touching before he settles back to lean on his desk and stare. Putting his glass down, he pushes it idly towards the edge in gesture, "Four fingers."


Natalie listens quite attentively, her blue eyes never once shifting from looking directly into Tony's, she nods with slight gestures to show she's listening and following along. Asked about her French, she answers with a native tongue level of French, "parfait," speaking with a Parisian accent no less. "Of course, I'll be nice at first, who knows…maybe if I talk sweet he'll be encouraged to see our way before we bring in the big threats?" What a dear, she would rather be all flirty to and avoid confrontations if possible, likely scared of them, it could be a good test of her ability to pull through on what Tony asks. Naturally she doesn't let out that she will get exactly what Tony wants, because of Jean-Phillipe dares refuse, he's going to get the scare of a lifetime. Natalie didn't mention that on her resume, but she can get very persuasive when the need arises.

"I'll make sure to remind Warehouse every 4 hours, so they'll definitely be ready, Mr. Stark." Natalie chirps as she seems to mentally file the Valeant follow up with Jean-Phillipe, and the reminder of shipment to the Warehouse. Sure it's her first day, and she's eager to be nothing short of perfect, but so far she's keeping right along with that plan. When it seems like Tony has forgotten she was even there, Natalie stands there at a loss for a moment. She's about to leave, when she hears him talk again, and turning to face him, she looks embarrassed at her confusion. Apparently not familiar with the meaning, she asks hesitantly, "Mr. Stark…? Would you like me to pour you some more of that liquor?" Yeah, she's a doll, and probably couldn't tell Whiskey from Gin, but she's eager to please.


Clint has arrived.


"Perfect." Tony's attention remains on the easel before he scowls again and twists around to see her. "I don't care how you do it, honestly. If I get a call from warehouse complaining, I'll just tell them that I told you to keep on them." He's a 'results' man.

With the glass shifted across his desk, Tony shakes his head his brief frown remains. "It's scotch. Not 'liquor'. I take it neat, no ice."

Once that has been taken care of, he pushes up and away from the desk to cross the short distance to his notes before he rips the paper down in a loud tear. It's crumpled up into a ball and tossed across the room into a wastepaper basket that seems to have more than a few remnants and reminders that Stark the younger does work at odd hours. "Yeah.." He's more talking to himself than Natalie, truth be told, "One more, then I think I'll take the car out for a drive."


Meanwhile, outside the office, another visitor advances on the office of none other than Tony Stark. When he'd gotten the message from the support staff of the billionaire, at first he'd treated it like a prank. Something Simmons would have done as a parting gift when ACT-F was disbanded, have a time delay message of some stellar opportunity to dangle an opportunity in his face, or to offer a supposed 'dream' job in the likelihood that by this time he'd already have found another bit of work. Not to mention that it said he should come by on a Sunday? Fat chance.


Clint Barton did, however, show up. Outside the office at the empty receptionist desk he gave the waiting room a suspicious eyeballing. Security let him up, he was indeed on the ledger. Still. Just means it's an elaborate prank. But then the hairs on the back of his neck stand up as he steps to the door. He hears voices inside and his brow furrows a touch. Then, with a sort of mental shrug to himself he heaves a small grunt of annoyance then knocks on the door three times. Maybe a little louder than one would normally, as if defying the gods of probability.


It isn't lost on Natalie that Tony Stark values results better than he values stockings on sexy legs, or his alcohol. She's undercover, but part of keeping her cover, is to be the best damned secretary Tony Stark ever had. Normally it'd be easy, but she has to be aspire to Ms. Potts' level of success, which will take some work. Though naturally, Tony will find in time that Natalie is surprisingly capable at getting things done. "You will hear of no problem from warehouse, I promise!" She sounds quite sincere too, quite adorable how she treats it like she's just been given the foremost project in the company. But at least it's the right attitude to do well, taking every minute detail as if it was grand in the scheme of things.

"Oh my! I'm so sorry! Scotch!" Natalie gasps, and looks concerned, as if Tony might actually fire her over something as frivolous as not knowing her types of alcohol. "Neat, no ice, got it," she blurts out with a seriously undertone, before making her way towards Tony's desk, reaching for his glass and pouring him a neat glass of scotch. "I'll make sure to read a manual on these, so I don't make any mistakes in the future," she actually sounds apologetic, as she moves after Tony once she refilled his glass, her heels click-clacking on the floor, as she extends her hand towards him, perhaps even leaning a bit forward to thrust her cleavage unintentionally in Tony's way.

But then there are three knocks on the door, and Natalie who only waited sufficiently for Mr. Stark to take his drink, hurries for the door, "that would be Mr. Barton, Clint Barton, he's been scheduled to see you, shall I let him in, Sir?" Assuming Tony has no problem, she'll open the door to let Clint inside, "Mr. Barton, this is Mr. Stark," she then turns to look at Tony hesitantly, "should I leave you two alone? Or would you like me to take notes? Or perhaps bring you some refreshments?"


This is actually one item on the schedule that Tony himself made. Some questions were asked after Act-F, and when Carol had told him it was disbanded? Barton was a no-brainer, at least in his book. Solid guy from all accounts (files, that is) and hungry enough to want work. Win, win.

"That's all I want." As far as Tony is concerned, every little bit of the puzzle is important; there are so many, many balls in the air at any given time that the merest of mistimed events could bring them all crashing down.

It is true that Tony's dark eyed gaze lingers a little longer on the amazing view that is Natasha… Natalie's cleavage before he takes his drink with a tight smile, even if it's a carefully crafted genuine smile. "Thanks."

The glass is now in hand, and Tony takes a swallow of the liquid as Clint enters the room, door opened by his new secretary. Pushing himself off the lean of his desk, he approaches, hand out in the gesture of greeting. "Barton. Perfect. Just in time to go for a ride." He glances back to Natalie before he offers a light shrug. "All off the record, okay doll?" He seems to shelve the idea of driving in favor for a reach to slap the man on the side of his arm, "Can she get you a drink? Name your poison."


The man who enters does not look like he's set for an interview. Or perhaps he made a sort of token gesture towards it, but apparently in this day and age doesn't exactly have a woman to look after him for the little things. Sure he's wearing a suit, but the tie is loose as if the whole thing around the neck rubbed him the wrong way. And sure he's mostly clean shaven but the goatee he wears at the moment is a touch… bristly.

Yet it's his manner that one might remark on the most as he enters. It's a certain languid calm, almost laconic as he moves into the room and says, "Mr. Stark." A nod given respectful enough which goes a way for Barton. He quirks an eyebrow at Natalie and gives a small smile and murmurs, "Coffee if you have it, please. Straight."

But then he rounds back as he closes the distance to Stark and soundly shakes the man's hand. Not aggressive, more just a firm pump, pump, done. He waits to be offered a seat, even just by body language, then moves to take it. Once they're reasonably settled curiously he starts the conversational gambit by stating. "When I got the message I wasn't entirely sure this was on the up and up, Mr. Stark." A small hint of an accent there, southern-ish?


Natalie smiles brightly like she just won some beauty pageant when Tony doesn't ask her to clear the office, off the record is something she's very good at! In fact, it's the main reason she got this position. She nods solemnly, "of course, Sir, off the record." She then turns to look at Clint, her blue eyes setting on his attentively, "Mr. Barton, what would you care to drink?" She seconds Tony's invitation, the perfect model of a secretary. On time, dutiful, and eager to please. Maybe it's the fact she's a recent hire, and the glow of landing a job with Stark Industries has gotten to her head a little. But so far she's been spot on in her conduct. Save perhaps failing to name a scotch earlier in the day.

When Clint asks for coffee only if they have it, Natalie can't help but giggle, not even bothering to stifle it. "Mr. Barton, this is Stark Industries, we have everything! How will you have your coffee? Sugar? Cream?" She asks, lingering a second longer before she moves to make the coffee. "Straight? A bold man, huh?" She muses playfully, before finally giving the two some space. Even as she moves by the bar to go about preparing the coffee, her movements always venture towards teasing, needless little leans and bends along the way, making her skirt rise just a little, exposing a garter here and there. All mindlessly done of course, as she's far too busy preparing coffee.


Once Tony's retrieved his hand and the newly arrived has found his seat and settled in, the host settles on the edge of his desk, one foot dangling, the other set on the ground. He watches as Natalie moves off to prepare the coffee, and as a man raised in a house of 'invisible' staff, his gaze lingers for a few moments longer before he's turning back to Clint and the business at hand.

"I was approached about a week or so ago now, and I figured it was a joke too. Until I talked with Rogers, America's sweetheart. He's gone into business for himself and he asked me about underwriting his endeavor. Avengers, they're calling themselves. That group that thinks it's going to put itself between the US and the USSR.. 'course, no one could give me a straight on how or what would happen if the Soviets were actually in the right." The drink is lifted and Tony takes another swallow of his scotch. Witnessed second glass of the morning, but the crystal decanter says otherwise, assuming it was full earlier. "I found out from someone that Act-F is no more, so I figured there was at least one phone call that had to be made."

Tony leans a little, and his voice drops. "My money, Barton, and I'm more than willing to put it on someone like you. My bet isn't on the likes of Rogers."


A quirked eyebrow is seen briefly from Clint as he eyes Natalie askance, no hint of his inner monologue is seen on his features, but he looks back in time to perhaps catch Tony's eye. A nod is given as he listens to the man's words. As Tony gets his full head of steam, the archer watches… listens, perhaps tilts his head slightly to the side and slowly his brow furrows. He's not exactly pitching a poker face, but there's definitely some cards being held out of view.

"I don't know if that's a smart bet, Mr. Stark. Captain Rogers is a good face to put forward. Gonna need something like that if you're going to try and run some PR thing." And, to be fair, Clint does hold Cap in high esteem, "But are you talking about a thing to replace ACT-F, or some sort of…" His expression shifts a touch more on edge, "Extra-national thing?" Again he glances in the direction of Natalie, but perhaps just gauging the distance and noting the movement.


Natalie goes about making the coffee as quietly as possible, obviously to not interrupt the men, rather than having a good listen on their conversation. After all details like Avengers, Rogers, and naturally the notion that Stark is actually open to the idea the Soviets may be right has no interest to her whatsoever.

There's only so much time making coffee takes, even when done ever so lovably to perfection. And so Natalie walks back towards Tony and Clint, placing the glass right next to Clint, "your coffee, Sir," she says obligingly, and takes a few steps back not to interfere, but remaining there in case notes will be needed, appointments might get scheduled and the sort. She makes pretty good eye candy in the meantime.


"Good face, sure. But what happens the moment he contradicts what Johnson wants? I get that he's all for freedom and democracy, but soldiers aren't politicians. It doesn't work that way. There are things done for expediency's sake, there are things done for negotiation sake, and frankly, I don't think the good Captain Rogers can bend for a solution. You, on the other hand, have worked in shadows long enough to know there is no such thing as black and white." Tony lifts his glass and empties it completely, setting it back down with a soft *whack* onto the table. It's not hard to know that the multimillionaire (some whispers has his value into the unheard of billion range!) is feeling his alcohol, but he manages not to slur his words (too badly).

Tony waits for Clint to receive his coffee, and when Natalie settles in, waiting for the next time she's needed, he seems to be satisfied enough to move on. "I'm talking about an extra-national thing, yes. And so far, no one's whispered a damned thing about oversight. You see now why I'm thinking Captain Rogers has to be watched?"


The look of mild trepidation is interrupted by the ever polite Ms. Rushman presenting the coffee before him. He accepts it and to his credit gives her a small smile and a murmured, 'Thanks.' Before he proceeds to just hold it in both hands before him, his elbows resting on the arms of the chair as he refocuses back upon Tony.

"You've obviously read my dossier, Mr. Stark." Clint starts, offering this statement as he orders the rest of his thoughts. Then he meets the other man's eyes. "And I think I agree with you in terms of base requirements for an organization of sorts if we're going to look to replace ACT-F in some capacity." Since right now he's still perhaps not entirely sure what Tony's proposing. A team of operatives? A group of negotiators? Something. "But mebbe somebody's talked me up a bit to ya." His lip curls faintly as his accent grows slightly, "But I'm not exactly a leader sort of guy. I tend to be the fella people call in once the ducks are in a row. I just knock 'em down."


Natalie returns Clint's smile, albeit hers is a fair bit warmer, perhaps appreciative of the 'thanks' for what would otherwise simply be expected of her. She certainly doesn't pay it any second thought, nor expects a 'thanks' but it is certainly nice to get it. As she goes back to stay put, keeping out of the conversation, she does keep an alert eye and when Tony's glass is empty, she shuffles over to get the scotch without a word. Only when she gets back to Tony's side, does she hesitate, holding the scotch towards his glass, but not yet pouring, waiting for a signal from him that it's okay to refill his glass. Sure he said it was the last one for the day, but maybe he wasn't serious about it? At the very least, she feels obligated to offer.


"I'm not looking for 'leader'. What I'm looking for is someone with a few brains in their head." Tony glances towards Natalie and nods; one more won't hurt before he's back to Clint once more. "I'm looking for people that aren't going to automatically say 'yessir' the moment Rogers says something. He's got enough of that already."

Rising from his spot, Tony starts to pace, wandering around the room, expounding on the thought. "I know I'm not wrong when I'm thinking that you know that there's a whole hell of a lot more at stake out there than 'us' and 'them'. It's why I pulled the Weapons Division. Too much 'us' and not enough 'everyone else'. You've got enough background to actually understand that. And not only understand it, actually act on it." He smiles tightly, and extends a hand, palm up. "I want you to come onboard to the Avengers. We need someone like you."


With someone like Clint and how he lives his life, a job isn't about money, or things. He hasn't looked at his bank account since leaving SHIELD and ACT-F. He's not a guy that looks for the big payout, for the perks, for the kudos or cache. Instead he's the guy who picks a gig primarily for keeping himself busy, engaged, and if it looks like it's going to be damned interesting. So other people might quibble at this moment about the contract. But Clint sort of just looks Tony Stark in the eyes, his own gaze narrowing a touch and crinkling at the corners.

Whatever some people might say about Stark, he's rarely boring.

So the two men clasp hands, there's a short sharp shake as Barton tells the other. "I reckon I can free up my schedule a smidge." And there's that easy-going sort of manner again as he gives the man a nod once they've ended the shake. "But if this ends with me ridin' a desk I'm gonna be a lil miffed."


With Tony's permission, Natalie refills his glass just one more time before moving away to put the scotch back in place, once more giving the men distance to have technical privacy. She doesn't count for much, after all, does she? Just a helping hand if needed. And she's quite happy with it, as well as what little tidbit she gets to hear off the record. Interesting, Barton moving from the ACT-F and SHIELD into something distinctly non-government. Something that's beyond her fathoming at this point.


"Desk jockey? Hell no. Can't be part of the excitement if you're tied to a desk. All that's for staff, assuming Rogers actually considered hiring that. I know he doesn't have a legal team or a PR team yet." Tony shrugs but he clasps the other man's hand easily. "Freeing it a little will be great. As it is, I have to find someone I can leave this baby to on occasion so I can go play. Someone who can handle my Board without throwing them all out the window." Unspoken, 'like I want to'. "I'll send over the paperwork later if you're around." And likely send Natalie.

"I'll follow you out. I want to take the Countach out before lunch." Yes, Tony did get that glass, and yes, he's draining it reasonably quickly so he can leave the tumbler behind. Glancing back, he doublechecks with Natalie. "Give yourself a half day. See you bright and early tomorrow morning."


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