1964-05-28 - Is this awkward? This feels awkward.
Summary: Shen, Tony, Pepper, and Matt meet at a fundraiser. There's some tension
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
pepper matt-murdock shen-kuei tony 


It isn't quite a cravate noir but the dress code for most of the attendees come close. There are nods being made for many of the charity workers, who probably don't actually own partial evening dress. A group named the Orchard Foundation organized this dinner and dance to announce contributions and programs being negotiated with UNICEF and some new organizations with 'Children' in the name.

It's 1964. The Charity Act was three years ago. They're everywhere, and people are figuring out how to use them to make money by… Spending money. It's a moderately lavish setting with a relatively tame setup. Waiters carry exceptionally fancy hors-d'oeuvres that range from delicious to tasteless back and forth while people mingle all over.

That cluster of businessmen laughing toward the back? Anyone who can read the room knows they are talking about more than golf or how much money they gave to children with too many fingers. It's a legitimate problem that isn't often discussed.

For her part Shen Kuei stands out because her formal dress is as foreign as she is. Shenhua has chosen a black silk qipao, left shoulder exposed, with a red rose embroidered into it so it wraps across her right shoulder from the back to the front of her abdomen. She's got a pin that indicates she's a major donor. She's also standing alone. Prime territory for making connections, despite the serious expression and the jaguar tattoo on her shoulder blade.


Matthew Murdock has to show up at these sorts of things.

It's one of the tricks for a defense attorney to make money. Foggy has only told him this about one hundred and fifty million times thus far. They drew straws. Matt had to come. Inwardly he's swearing and wishing he could be out as the Devil, trying to make the world a better place. A place where their business stays afloat is probably the best way to make his best friend's life better, at least.

His reddish hair is parted neatly to one of the sides and he wears the required suit. There is no pin to note that he's a donor. He carries his walking cane in his right hand and over his eyes he has a pair of circular, red lens glasses.


Tony Stark is here. If there is a party, then the multi-millionaire really should be present. He is a powerhouse for donations; little flipper-fingered children depend upon his largesse, as well as those with all sorts of diseases.

Decked out in a tuxedo, he's lifting a glass of champagne from a tray as it passes by as he makes small talk with one or another, inserting laughter where needed. He is, of course, discussing business; money begets money, and the only way to make it is to spend it, to invest it. "Assuming it doesn't get reallocated, I'm sure that it should be enough…"


Of course Pepper was here. She is the highest paid woman *in the world*, right now, and the CFO of Wayne Enterprises. If she didn't spend most of her lonely evenings at some charity function or other, when she wasn't working in the office, it'd be the talk of how selfish she was with her money. Besides, it wasn't like there was anyone to go home to anyway. So, the redhead steps into the room but 20 minutes after the start of everything, having been kept late at the office but eventually making it free.

She's stunning. Her red hair is drawn up off her neck in a chignon which is a much softer style than the fashionable beehives of the day and just makes her look achingly feminine, especially with bared shoulders, nape of her neck and collar bones. A few loose strands elegantly frame her face. She wears a faint shimmering of diamonds across her throat linked by invisible strands and matching, tiny diamond earrings. Her gown pure white, something innocent, from almost an earlier era. It's off her shoulders and hugs her upper half like a second skin before spilling out into layers of soft, touchable tulle, creating the image that her waist is nothing but a whisp. She smells like vanilla and roses. She gives a quiet smile to the greeting committee, accepting her major donor pin and palming another check into their hands to some very happy sounds. "It is nothing. I meant to send over more initially, but I had to clear it with the board… You know how cranky these people get." She squeezes hands one more time and then moves farther into the room. Shen gets a slight arch of her brow, seeing the other woman standing quite alone. She immediately begins making her way in that direction.


Shenhua quietly sips her wine for the moment, studying the people around her carefully. She exchanges smiles and pleasantries with a couple of men as they pass her and move on to meetings that are probably prearranged. Pehaps Shen is waiting for someone. Perhaps she's only here out of a sense of obligation.

The Chinese woman has her hair pulled into a neat english braid rather than the more common beehives (or elegant buns) of other attendees. As if the bodyhugging black silk dress isn't enough to differentiate her from the people, like she's an elegant model for a style of clothing just now appearing in American cinema. She's also the only Asian female in the room. The businessmen clearly know who she is and some accord her some measure of respect. Like they can miss her.

As Pepper approaches Shenhua offers her a slow, nearly incandescent smile. She's too calm to be truly effervescent but it's easy enough to see the woman relaxing. "Good evening," Shenhua calls quietly in perfect, lightly accented English. Hong Kong, for the curious.

"You must be Ms. Potts. Does the party suit you so far? It's very- bright. Almost more so than I expected." There's a brief moment spared while Shen looks Pepper over from head to toe. Briefly, no staring. She doesn't seem the type to let anything in her surroundings go unexamined.


Matt's walk towards the pair is more to get a flute of champagne than anything else, but as he arrives, not far from Pepper and Shen Kuei, he gives a smile. "Hello," he says in a friendly tone. "Matt Murdock." He offers them each a hand as he hangs his cane on the arm that holds the drink. "Hope you ladies are having a good time so far this evening."


Tony's attention is immediately pulled as one Virginia Potts enters the room. It may feel as if all eyes are upon the redhead, but in truth, they may be but one pair is most definitely. His. Whatever it is that comes in response to his comment is missed, ignored, or rather, simply unheard as he watches her progress through the room. Finally recalling that he is in company of others, he nods his head in prelude to departing, and crosses the short distance, navigating around small clusters casually, his flute in hand but contents untouched.

It doesn't take him long, and Tony shows up right behind Pepper's elbow, his expression carefully schooled into courtesy and professionally genuine. "Miss Kuei, Tony Stark. Stark Industries." As if he needs introductions? Just look at any given day's newspaper and the chances are better than even that his face will be there in some form or another.


The approach of that handsome, blind redhead gains Pepper's eyes. She tries to remember how she recognizes him, then the name catches her mind, "Oh! Mr. Murdock, from the law firm, right? We were considering using you, back when I was… well, at my old job. It's good to actually meet you in person…" Pepper's voice is overly polite, husky, elegantly cultured for evening time. She was made to flit around at parties like this, flirt lightly, talk business, learning a lot more than she leaves behind. Donate enough to feed starving children for a year. It's a dance she does very well, despite her seeming youth.

Then she's looking back to Shenhua, her smile actually warming a bit more. The presence of another woman daring to be single is an odd reassurance. "Indeed. Virginia Potts, actually, but please, call me Pepper. And the party is… lovely. They are going good work. I'm glad to attend one of these for an actual charity I fully support." The implication being that half the galas in the city are just money laundering functions. WHich is probably true. "And Wayne Enterprises is always more than happy to support such new ventures. The check I brought tonight was from the board. The one I sent ahead was personal." Yes, she double donated. Happily.

Then she's looking over as Tony comes up next to them, a slight tightness in her chest to just see him, but Matt would probably notice that everything has changed in her. Heart double timing, breath more shallow. Tony's very presence has upended her whole night. "Mr. Stark… where's Miss Danvers tonight? I'd love to see what dress she chose." Pepper murmurs as formally respectful as possible.


"Li Shenhua. Shenhua is more than fine. Or, Shen." Shenhua does seem to be relaxing by degrees as Pepper shifts closer, her vigilant gaze casting over Matt and Tony both before she continues. "It's a lovely party, Mr. Murdock, thank you." she offers to Matthew first, lowering her head slightly as she does so. "Would you like me to flag one of the servers for you?" There's a subtly classist flair to how everyone is treated, though there's no argument to be made that the service is anything less than top notch. Little differences.

Whether Matt accepts Shen's assistance or not she is soon back to Pepper and Tony, nodding as the other woman continues to speak. "Pepper," Shen muses, testing the name briefly on her tongue. "I'm not sure what to make of much of this but I agree. I haven't been involved in philanthropy in New York City very often but I could not stay away from this one. Some ofthe others just seem… Less helpful. This one has done a lot of good for some children in Hong Kong, which is where I am from. I had to come." Shen caught the implication, it seems, and there's a nod of quiet understanding. "And, parties, well. I've had a number of gentlemen calling upon me, so it's been quite… Companionable." It's drily stated, so not much of a roaring endorsement.

And then all eyes are on Tony, at last. "Tony Stark. I've not had the honour," Shenhua continues in a muted dtone. Taking a cue from Pepper she stiffens slightly, perfect posture, not that it can make up for the fact that she sticks out like a sore thumb in a room full of quad amputees.


"Yes, of course, Miss Potts. Nice to meet you again," Matt says as he nods in remembrance. And, just then, Tony arrives in all of the whirlwind that entails. The young man from Hell's Kitchen can't help but smile and give a little chuckle, enjoying the theatrics of the millionaire playboy. Noticing Pepper's unease, Matt makes a mental note, but does not let on. "I'm fine, thank you," Matt says to Li Shenhua. "I appreciate it, however."


"Mr. Murdock." Tony doesn't have to back up Pepper's word on the fact that Stark Industries was considering employing the man's firm for legal consultation. In the interim, however, they do have a Legal Department; slowly but surely being built now. "A pleasure."

How could Tony miss the shifting of manner and mien of Pepper when he approaches? Maybe it's a test, maybe he's doing it on purpose, full in the knowledge that she was trying to pawn him off on others. "Miss Potts," Tony returns, his tones cordial and professional; the perfect tone and timbre for such a meeting. "She couldn't make it this evening. I'm sure the two of you wouldn't have worn the same dress. You both have completely different styles. If that's what you're worried about."

"Shenhua," Tony repeats. "It's a notable cause. I'm glad for the opportunity. When all is said and done, Stark Industries will be matching the funds gained here this evening. For the children."


For a heartbeat or two, Pepper's eyes follow Tony with a longing she cannot entirely hide. Worry, and longing. She gives a slight chuckle about Carol, "No, no… I don't think Carol would… well, I'm not worried about her dresses. I got to talk with her the other day. She's a really sweet woman. I… I just was worried why she didn't come." Pepper tries to put that as diplomatically as possible, but she's not really good at lying to Tony. "It's…good to see you, Tony." She adds, just a bit softer. Then there is a brush of her fingertips, a slight squeeze of his arm, if he permits, before she's pulling away and looking back to Shen.

"Shen, then… If you ever need help navigating those gentlemen callers, just say my name. I've been doing this dance a while now and know who to avoid. Also… for the charities. This is a good cause. I know a few others I've put my name behind. You should come to the office some day… we'll get to know each other better and talk it over as women in business." Pepper reaches into her little diamond clutch, pulling out her business card and handing it in Shen's direction.

Then she's finally looking back to the handsome redhead, "…Mr. Murdock, I don't suppose you dance? I promise I'll keep an eye on your back. But… of men in this room I'd trust on the dance floor, you are on a very short list. Besides, we could talk a bit more about some initiatives in Hell's Kitchen that Wayne Enterprises is looking to take. I'd love to get your thoughts on them all…"


"Thank you," Shen responds warmly, taking the card from Pepper immediately. Her eyes are bright as she starts to smile and then decides on a firm nod. "Absolutely. I'll bring you something from Hong Kong. Cookies, maybe. It's- a cultural consideration." Shenhua's gaze follows Pepper's toward tony and then dats back to the woman as she nods in understanding.

"That's very generous of you, Mr. Stark. Miss Li would possibly be considered more appropriate… But Shenhua is acceptable." With a small smile Shen shifts her weight and then takes a deep breath, nodding to Matt and Pepper both. "I imagine Mr. Murdock is more talented on the dance floor than you'd expect. And I… Have to make business connections. For charity." Finishing her champagne Shen seems to be eyeing the businessmen at the far side of the room. No women have been anywhere near that side of the room, aside from servers.


Matt coughs at the interlude between Pepper and Tony about Carol Danvers. He may be blind, but his fingers are sensitive enough to feel the words on all the tabloids. As Pepper gives him an escape route, he seems eager to take it. He places his drink on the edge of the bar and offers his hand to Pepper. "I'd be happy to," he says after she gives him half a compliment.


Tony doesn't miss the difficulties Pepper is 'experiencing', and he isn't far off on his own. He's got his flute in one hand, and he drops his other hand into his tux pocket. Dark eyes rest upon the redhead for a few long heartbeats before he takes a breath and exhales softly but audibly. "She doesn't like these sort of events. Still getting used to the press." One of the sticking points, actually. When Pepper asks Matt to dance, however, his jaw shifts and he smiles tightly, the expression not coming anywhere near his eyes. "Miss Potts," is given tightly in something of a 'farewell', and he steps aside.

"Miss Li, then," It's easier for him truthfully. Each contact has to be right. "I am sure he's an accomplished dancer," is finally given as something of a response.

As one of the trays saunters by, held by a waiter, Tony empties the content of the glass and sets the empty in place before he's ready to mix elsewhere.


One last smile is given to Tony and then Pepper allows herself to gently escort away the blind man. She almost immediately relaxes when she's outside of Tony's present a bit more, even if there is still a tightness behind her throat. "It's…been a long time since I danced, Mr. Murdock. Just a warning." But Pepper is good. In fact, she's excellent, having trained in ballroom for several months last year, it all comes back quite naturally. As she offered, she keeps eyes out across his back, but lets him take the lead if he knows how. If not, she ever-so-gently back leads, a soft pressure in his arms, smelling of vanilla and roses as they begin their slow pattern across the floor. "…How has life been for Nelson and Murdock? Are you managing enough cases?" She asks, and there is a genuine note to her words. She's not just making small talk, she's actually concerned and curious. Pepper is the strange thing of a business person who actually cares.


"Yeah, well, I'm blind, so," Matt says with a low voice and a chuckle as he 'looks' up at her. In truth, he's a pretty good dancer all things considered, and moves far more lithely than one might expect of a blind man. "I can't complain," he answers as she asks about the business. "Foggy and I are motoring along. What about you? Working for Wayne, I hear. All that tension with Stark the reason you left." Murdock pulls her close and into a dip, before pulling her back up again.


Meanwhile, Shenhua is having her confrontation with the boy's club. She introduces herself quietly to a tall, somewhat rotund man by the name of Samuel Kane. She offers him a sweet smile and he arches a brow. Tension is already building. The men surrounding him look vaguely nonplussed but the discussion is surprisingly polite. Small-talk, really. "So I'll be able to count on your donation then, Mr. Kane?"

Everyone around them is bewildered as to how easily Shen inserted herself but it seems as though no one is going to challenge what Samuel has to say. One man tries and is fixed with a glare fit to curdle milk before lapsing back into silence. Samu nods stiffly and Shenhua bows her head again before turning on her heel to move to the edge of the dancefloor.

Shenhua is still watching people calmly as the party is really getting underway. Champagne is being doled out to those off the dance floor in preparation for an oncoming toast. Things are lively. Shen even seems to be taking in the enthusiasm. She actually smiles when remarking to one charity worker, "What you do is amazing. Helping so many people. This party is really for you. Thank you for coming."

Well, Shen's making friends at least.


The dance is a pleasant surprise, Pepper's smile stretching wider across her lips as she dares to take a few more chances with Murdock as she now realizes how good he is on the floor. "For a blind man, you are remarkably good on your feet. Makes me wonder where other talents lie." Yes, that is straight up flirting, a touch of heat behind Pepper's words that also isn't an act. She did come here alone, after all. But it's tempered by the question of her not working for Stark, "It's…complicated. When that Vigor stuff was on the streets I… ah… I got hooked on it. Tony told me to choose between the company or the drug. Like most addicts, I chose the drug. Eventually, I was able to get off with help of a good friend but… it was too late then. Fortunately, Mr. Wayne came along and offered me the chance of a life time… Now, I wouldn't change anything for the world. Do I miss Stark? Yes… madly. It felt like home. But I'm showing women EVERYWHERE that women can be in business just as much as men. I'm breaking every glass ceiling possible. That's… far more important." For a business person, Pepper was achingly honest. Perhaps to a fault but not a word she's said to Matt has been a lie.


Matt chuckles as the redhead flirts with him, "Well, I've been told I'm a talented person. And my father was a boxer, so I got his feet. My mother was a Catholic so I got the guilt." His smiles at his joke as he twirls her. "A lot of people in my part of town got hooked on that sort of thing. Happy to hear you're clean and doing so well. Maybe you could come down to my church some time and talk to the Youth group. They're at that age."


Shenhua is, for her part, eventually swept into a dance of her own. That of the business world. She's shrugging off jeering ccomments for the most part, though one 'gentleman' hash ad the bright idea to attempt to touch her on a couple of occasions. So far she fends him off by lightly shifting his hand aside with her own, or bumping his arm with her elbow. It's almost hypnotic for people who are watching with an idea of martial forms. They might realize she's turned into something of a game. The man… Doesn't seem to realize he's being rebuffed on purpose. Too much champagne.

"The expansion of this foundation to Hong Kong is-"

"No one cares about you Orientals and your stupid rugs and things. Charities like this belong right here in the good ol' US of A."

Shen levels this speaker with a long, slow glare. No one is moving any longer. Silence lasts for a few heartbeats.

"A prospect that could be worth millions of dollars. There are charity tax breaks in the Chinese market as well that…" It seems Shen's having trouble getting her spiel out with the quiet harassment. At least one person is all ears, at least.


"I'd be happy to come chat with the kids…and I can speak with Bobbi, if you have someone you want to help get off that stuff? We… we might have a drug therapy for it. It worked on me, at least. Make sure I give you my card when this is over." Pepper's hand squeezes a bit more reassuringly against Matt's shoulder, defintely encouraged and a bit more comfortable with him now. She actually might be smiling genuinely, not that he can see.

Then she spies the vulture swooping in with Shen, a man who has tried to womanize her before and not gotten far. She has no clue how well Shen can handle it, so her eyes go a bit wide. "…We should go save SHen from Mr. Conners. He's notorious and the poor woman is probably getting an earful…" Pepper begins dancing them in that direction, a forcibly wide smile on her lip as they come right next to the pair, "Mr. CONNERS…I'm sure that you have a difference of opinion but the lady here is really quite respected…" Pepper begins. Hopefully she can get most of her defense out before Conners is decked.


Matt's ear tilts towards the conversation between Conners and Shen and he nods to her. "Short but sweet," he says for the dance, and breaks off as the pair come close to the woman and the man who seem to be at odds. Matt picks his champagne flute up off the bar, right where he left it and takes a swig. "That card, Miss Potts, so you don't forget. Wouldn't want to leave tonight without it."


"Well, darling, I realize that you have an opinion to get out but I'm pretty sure I know more about busi-"

Then Pepper is coming to the rescue in time to keep Shen from seriously considering putting Conners through the nearest wall. Shenhua looks up and so Does COnners. He blanches slightly when Pepper starts speaking. Her business connections alone could end him, nevermind her social acumen. "Right. Of course, Miss Potts. Forgive me. We were discussing important business matters and-"

"I happen to have a direct interest in that business, Mr. Conners. I appreciate your zealous defense but it isn't necessary." The incoming redhead is favoured with a positively incandescent smile after her defense and Shenhua takes a deep breath, nodding slowly. "Pepper. Thank you. People aren't normally so- bold, back home." It seems Shen's had time to pick up a few American speech mannerisms at least.

"I've already said my piece. Level heads are listening, at least.Did you enjoy your dance with Mr. Murdock? He's quite nimble for a blind man." That smile of Shen's brightens a hair more as they proceed away from the gathering of businessmen. Shen slowly shakes her head as she goes.

"They're completely insufferable. I have no idea how you can put up with their nonsense. But that's why you're you, I suppose." Shen akes a slow breath inward. "I think they are probably going to start shooing people out already. In fact, it looks like Conners is leaving now with Mr. Kane. Hmm. Mr. Murdock, do you actually represent any of the people here?"


The redhead takes a moment to look at Conners with what can only be called her death-smile. It's the smile more than one company has seen across the merger and acqusition table now. It's getting a reputation in the business community and a terrifying one at that. It's a look that says business is not going to go very well for Conners over the next little while and is going to go extra well for Wayne Enterprises. "Miss Shenhua is actually one of the most capabile business minds to come out of Asian this decade, Conners, and you should do well to remember that. Wayne Enterprises is more than happy to have her as a partner and advisor. When was the last time anyone trusted YOUR word during the opening exchange bell on MOnday morning?" With those lashing words, Pepper turns, giving a little nod, "Shen, Murdock, shall we? I need one last drink."

This is why Pepper is a queen. Why she's CFO and why Wayne's stock has gone up 20 points since she became CFO. She is a little spitfire flame tornado of business accumen and command, no matter how lovely she is. Once they are away, and several OTHER business men are now avoiding Conners, she stalks to the bar and orders them three more champanges. She passes one and her card over to Matt, "Here. My card. I'd love to get… coffee, or something, and… discuss things more. ANd one for you as well, Shen. I genuinely would be interested in your taken on the Asian market."


Matt finishes the champagne he's currently got as Pepper orders more. He puts his glass on the bar as he runs his fingers over her card before putting it in his breast pocket under his coat. "Coffee would be great. Just let me know when and I'll clear my schedule."


"They've been calling China the market of the future," Shen notes to Pepper as she examines the car, nodding her head slowly. "It's definitely a different sort of market. And yet… You see the same sorto f personalities." Shenhua is visibly delighted to hear Pepper tear apart Mr. Conners, and she's just asp leased to watch him departing the party. Satisfaction. That's the word for it as she turkc away he card at last.

"This has been a lot more productive than I was anticipating, really. Pepper, I will visit with you soon. I can't wait. And Mr. Murdock…" Shen shrugs. "May I have your card as well? I might havesome work your law firm could help me with, actually. Not everything needs a big team of old corporate lawyers."


"I can also recommend Nelson and Murdock as one of the more trustable law firms in the entire city, Shen. I'm sad I didn't get to finish the deal with them before I left Stark Industries. If you have work… they can be trusted with it." Pepper flashes Matthew another unseen smile, but she's not just blowing smoke. Who knows what she's heard about their firm, but she seems to genuinely believe that they are on the up and up. And she isn't one to flatter without having evidence, so she must have done some checking on them.

Sadly, her wallet can't earn them drinks when the bar has already closed, many of the room already trickling out. "…well, it seems everyone's eager to get back for an actual holiday tomorrow. I owe you both drinks another evening, I promise…"


Matt nods and reaches into his coat to produce a card for Shen, "Anytime. Speaking on behalf of Foggy, we'd love to represent you. We feel like sometimes, a special focus is needed that other corporate lawyers cannot always provide. It was certainly nice meeting you." Matt nods a bit forlornly at Pepper, "Well, it was great to see you again Miss Potts."


  • Shenhua nods politely at this and then lowers her head slightly one more time. "Good evening. Mr. Murdock. Pepper." The card disappears into her bag and then woman turns on a heel to start after the departing crowd. Last stop of the night, it appears. She walks with the same quiet confidence with which she seems approach everything. This is her world, after all. Even if it's only for the night. The staff cleans up efficiently and the glasses are collected and hauled off to the only part of the venue that will be open two more hours. The kitchen. It was a successful party.

That night Mr. Samuel Kane climbs into his polished black cadillac and is escorted by his new driver, Michael. They ride easily through the night from the party, out of the city and toward the suburbs surrounding the innermost burroughs. Eventually, Michael gets out of the car as it rumbles rather distressedly. "I'm sorry, sir. We seem to be having some difficulties. There's a gas station up ahead…"

Kane is discomfited. He shifts in his seat, scowling while he watches the nearby gas station. Michael pulls in near the tire pumps and then exits. "I'll just be a moment getting some help. The clerk should have some tools."

The explosion is more like a pop. The car rocks and the cab is filled with smoke and flame, and what is left of Samuel Kane. No one remembers hiring a Michael Dalton to drive any cars.

The Cat claims responsibility for the hit, according to the shadows. Apparently he's just hit town.

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