1964-10-28 - About An Arm
Summary: Tony and Rogue top shop over drinks and smooth jazz.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
tony rogue 

It's another dim day at the office, and Tony's just about to call it a night. Pepper's gone, and all the progress he had been making seems to have gone with her. He's got a glass of scotch in hand, though not for long. Tilting back the rest of it, he feels the burn and closes his eyes. That sweet fire has kept him warm for so long now. It's the reliable thing. He sets the glass aside and picks up his coat, shrugging it on. If he has any lingering appointments today, they can complain about it to him in the lobby. He's going home.

Hours shift oddly on a weekend. How many people want to be in the Financial District, trudging between the train station stairs and the high glass temples consecrated to the holy causes of commerce and industry? The laity enjoy few chances to complain about their lot. It could be worse; they could be in Russia, collectivized, their labours meaningless. Petitioners to the high priest of technological excess are thin on the ground, and none of them wear a short, flowing skirt that moves in a widening bell barely imagined by the likes of Christian Dior. Never mind the cropped jacket overtop, leather bomber of a sort. Scarlett does not belong, not by a long short, in a sea of unstructured polyester sheathes for pretty young things on expensive Savile Row-tailored jacket arms, thank you very much.

They can complain in the lobby where she loiters, smiling at one of the security guards who may sincerely doubt she knows another about Mr. Stark. But maybe Mr. Stark knows her that way. Any way. The bohemienne dreamily tilts her head. "I understand it's late. Could you leave word with him anyways?" A pause follows, a softer question about identity winding around and around to a point. "We're affiliated through the same philanthropic organization with Captain Rogers."

Indeed, Ms. Potts is only just gone, and it looks like the boss is already getting over her. The guard smiles at Scarlett knowingly. If Stark hasn't nailed her yet, he will. "He's on his way down," he tells her, then, "Sure you are, sweetheart."

Just then, the elevator dings and out steps Mr. Stark, dressed to the nines with a stylish winter coat, scarf and gloves which he's tugging on, one hand then the other. He pauses as he sees Scarlett, then tells her, "Office is closed." He eyes the door, but he doesn't go for it just yet.

Every problem looks like a nail for a man with a hammer and too many bottles of expensive alcohol. The Soul-Thief teaches lessons the hard way. The sinuous curve of her hip draws a wider arc while the inward bend marks her subtle reliance on the counter to hold herself up. All the more to give an impression of confidences between guard and girl, caught in the whispered neroli scent rising off her pulse points and throat. 'Tis a bridge between olfactory seasons, the mouth-watering apple and heavy cinnamon spices of autumn leading to the bright, sharp citrus and crystal clarity in the winter season.

Scarf absent, gloves not, Scarlett relies far more on a smile than any other showy activity. "Thank you," she tells the guard and pivots sharp on her heel, making a gliding pace seem far slower than it actually is. There's something about having a long stride when she needs it. "Excellent, Mr. Stark, then I shall take up less of your precious time, unless you have a love for slinky jazz and the drinks to match." She inclines her head, braids spun down her back swaying slightly. "Have fifteen minutes to entertain a proposition?"

She knows exactly what she's implying, and what she isn't.

The guard casts a glance at Tony, giving him a small upnod. Good going, boss. The look Tony gives him is pleasantly bland. He turns his attention to Scarlett as he tugs the lapels of his coat into place. "That'll be enough, Reg," he tells the guard. The guard takes the hint and goes to check on other security things. Boy does he have the wrong idea.

Tony turns to Scarlett again and says, "It turns out I do have a love for slinky jazz and drinks to match. Shall I bring the car around?" Lucky day when the distractions come to find him. It beats kicking around an empty home. "What's on your mind?"

That mischief lingering deep in the emerald wells of those phosphorescent eyes requires some effort to distinguish. Her hands lace together, affording no risk whatsoever for good Mr. Stark. Scarlett's serene nature endures as the overriding presence, concealing whatever lies beneath rather well. Poor guard. Reg really has no idea.

"As you like," she replies to Tony, nodding to the offer. "Village Vanguard has a promising show tonight." Credit where due, the moment they see him any kind of door will open up. Lose a few hours to the purr of lyrical vocals and conceptually complex drinks, after all. "All the very best things. Topics du noir, security, espionage, and extracting delicious confusing and useful technology as a start? All the best things."

"Sounds like my cup of tea," Tony says, "if I drank tea. Come on, the car's this way." He holds the door open, proving he can be a gentleman or fake the part. He follows after her and nods up the street. That sleek red car? Yeah, that's his. The top's up, given the weather. He fits in in this neighborhood, dressed as he is, with his mindlessly imperious bearing.

"So what's going on at the manor these days? I've been a little sidetracked. Doesn't seem to be a lot of Avenging, but we should still get the lab finished up." He's aware of his shortcomings and the jobs he's left undone. It's like waking up from a nice dream, and all the stuff he'd abandoned is still there waiting for him. Man, love is bad for his productivity.

When they reach the car, he holds the passenger side door open for her. "Village Vanguard, you say? I think I know where that is." He knows where all the hot spots are.

The Village Vanguard, temple to sin, takes up a pizza slice building at the bottom of Greenwich Village. Through its green doors, beneath that long awning, excess pours through the keys of pianos or the rolling croon of whatever performer takes to the stage. The greats and greats in process seek it, but so too do young musicians sure to blaze their violent trail through the world, with surnames like Joplin, Hendrix, and such. Their destination positively hums.

"Try tea," Scarlett murmurs, "and the right kind can pack quite the punch." She steps into the car with a word of thanks and buckles up, habit of a speed demon hidden in a polite Columbia student's frame. "In truth, the whole business has been near to silent. Troubling, really, given something cratered a chunk of the Amazon and someone or something detonated the sea floor." Nonsequiturs are something of a stock in trade. Ask not about love and productivity; either hers spikes or the world freezes solid. "The world makes for an odd place. Before we seek a line, I have an odd question. Have you heard of any sort of mobile eavesdropping technology before? Bugs in telephones, we know about those. Microphones. What about those that could be embedded?"

Curious thought for her as she bounds up to her feet on the sidewalk, smoothing out her skirt. No chance it lies flat.

Tony looks dubious about the tea. He doesn't buckle in, but he does drive fast. Who's going to pull him over? He's Tony Stark. Fortunately, he can handle speed. And there's the club in no time. He slides into a parking spot, practically skidding sideways into a space that fits like a glove.

"Hmm." He stares into the middle distance, constructing the schematics for such a device in his mind. "It's possible," he decides. With the use of radio waves and an advanced enough integrated circuit… "Why, have you run into anything like that?"

"Plausible I could have run across such. Would it be immediately identifiable, though, that remains an uncertainty," Scarlett admits freely. She unclasps the seatbelt as the car jolts to a stop, tugging on the dark edge of her jacket to assure that, too, hasn't been put into disarray. First impressions count, after all, and second and third and fourth. "The thought crossed my mind certain agencies could possibly implement such technology to our detriment, were it not searched for. Whether or not the current technology allows for that, or proves too crude, remains an unknown. Though you probably considered such things yourself."

Her grave, glittering eyes briefly trace along the sky, as though seeking the constellations rarely visible in the burning glow covering New York. "Soviets possibly hiding such away."

Tony exhales, puffing out his cheeks at the mention of the Soviets. "Yeah, that's the kind of thing we want to stay on top of. Any chance you could get hold of something like that?" He waves a hand, adding, "If you encounter it. I'll talk to that girl, Hope, about whether she's seen that kind of tech in her future world. I'll leave it to the spies to infiltrate the Reds. Just point me at what to blow up." Because subtlety? That's not Tony's forte.

He opens the door to the club, and of course they've got space for Tony Stark and his lady friend. He gestures for Scarlett to pick where they sit. "As for whether it can exist? I've worked with ten stranger things just this week."

Scarlett doesn't hasten into the club, showing the bouncer whatever constitutes ID that he might ask her for. Tony probably needs none. Her own might earn slightly raised eyebrows but nothing further, given exciting individuals eclipse those of no real name, distinction, or importance. Let the man with the plan and the reputation precede her, the plan goes, and she holds no qualms regarding him taking point. "Girl from a future world. Isn't that rather conjuring a space-time paradox? Learn of it before its time and you no longer rely on that future timeline existing, for the violation of principles could prohibit it."

Her shoulders tilt back in a light shrug, card slipped away into her wallet, which in turn calls for daring touch. "Did you ever examine Barnes when he was in custody?"

"Sure, her future may not happen, but if the tech was there, that means it can exist, and if it can exist, it can be invented," Tony says. He looks back to her, letting her catch up to his long strides. "And if it can be invented," he tells her, "I can invent it." In matters of the heart he may be lost, but his ego remains untarnished in the realm of technology.

"I've examined Barnes, yeah. I've been thinking about some upgrades. Just a few tweaks to make the inner workings more elegant. It's all part of maintaining him. Eventually, some the the clumsy tech in that arm of his is going to fail. I'd like to be on top of that."

Hearts bound by technology do create a lifesaving device for those suffering certain chronic conditions. Not one to argue with a master of engineering, Scarlett glides along the wall papered in posters and the occasional instrument. Trombones mounted in place of taxidermied animals make for a different safari of sorts, the big game of the bayou.

"Would it even be possible to create a complete facsimile? Replicate it and remove some of the weak points, like the crank and pulley formations in there," she muses, tone reflective. The murmur melts so easily into the background. "I have to think the electrical system at the very least could benefit from upgrades. Things moved in the last twenty years."

"In theory?" Tony looks around the place, and he finds himself relaxing, even for lack of another glass of scotch to kill off his brooding. The change of scenery is good for him. So is good company and a topic that genuinely captures his imagination. "Absolutely," he says. "That Soviet tech is clumsy and slapdash. They've done an impressive job, don't get me wrong, but compared to what we're capable of in the US of A? As usual, they fall short."

"I've been drawing up some schematics for the arm," he admits. "After I got under the hood and got to poke around. I feel pretty good as well that, as technology continues to develop, we'll have more and more elegant solutions to interesting problems when it comes to making that thing functional."

"Fascinating." Really. Scarlett doesn't necessarily understand the be-all, end all of conversations with Tony "Yes, I'm Confusing" Stark, but indulging the possibilities still intrigue. "The tech is downright agonizing. Imagine putting a screwdriver in something like that. I would dread electrocution more than anything else." A shudder runs down her back, sympathetic to the potential agonies wrought of flesh and mortal cares. "Elegant solutions with a modular component could allow for upgrading and, more interestingly, environmental responsiveness not incorporated in the original design. Reactive technology seems a thing of the far future, but imagine what could be done if there were some way to quickly replace a piece for a desert with one for arctic tundra, or switch out quickly. I'm sure the government would be fascinated, but from a pragmatic approach, that would change the game in some way."

What, doesn't everyone understand forever living on the cutting age of technology, where yesterday's Eureka is today's obsolescence? It all makes perfect sense. "A real-time responsiveness to environmental factors," Tony muses. The amount of tech he'd have to invent just to invent the tech to do that is beyond even him, but oh, oh it's there on the horizon. He can sense it. "Sure, I could take a look," he says. "Even if we couldn't switch out entire arms — not quite feasible with what we're working with — modular implants that could be snapped into place after you crack him open, that's doable." He pauses. "Will be doable. Soon." He gives a so-so wobble of his hand. "Relatively."

Oh fear what locks be undone, what keys turn and gears rotate from a familiar configuration to a wild one. Not for tomorrow, no, nor the next day. But muse that she is, copper-crowned and rosy-fingered, Scarlett dips her head in a nod. There isn't much of a waiter service at the Vanguard, but needs as one must for Mr. Stark. Her own request comes belated and easy, a potent red shiraz of crushed berries and a rich mouthfeel compared to tart, acid whites. "Switching out entire arms would mean completely reworking the back structure, no? Or would there be an advantage to a lighter, streamlined quality? Less metal, more effective design and efficient transfer of energy?" Let's pretend that makes sense, the matter of ideas transferred instead counts.

Tony is accustomed to service just appearing for him. It's not even with arrogance that he accepts it as… acceptance. So has it always been, so shall it always be. He orders a Manhattan. "I think if I can get a closer look, we could see about streamlining it, going with something lighter without sacrificing strength. Like I said before, clumsy and slapdash. Soviet tech can always be improved upon." Not that he's biased with the homemade glowing disc in his chest keeping him alive, no thanks to the Ruskies.

Tony studied Scarlett for a moment. Energy transfer? Not many people are capable of stumping him, but there it is. He opens his mouth, closes it, then says, "First things first, I'll have to draw up a full schematic of the arm as it is now. It'll take me an afternoon, but with Barnes' cooperation I can get it done. Then we see what there is to see."

Scarlett will take what she can get with reasonable service, or the fine sort. What amounts to rather tidy delivery means drinks come and the bluesy freedoms of the evening rotate to a more explosive delivery as the set changes, and the house band gives way to someone infinitely more volatile and moody. "Not up to me, naturally. Though worth contemplating, isn't it? I had the thought once there might be bugs somehow implanted, but that seems rather compensated for. Start thinking about internal workings and the doors start opening a little here and there, possibilities peeking out." She sips her wine. "Thank you for not thinking I sound utterly batty or that you somehow lack wit or insight, and deserved to be schooled by some random person." Or random Avenger doing avenging. "Exercises in ideas and brainstorming are something of a passion."

Her fingers crook as she examines her palm. Death in so small a space.

Tony's brows lift. "Why would I do that? You know your stuff." Brains are the great equalizer. Someone he can hold a conversation with and not feel like he has to dumb it down? It's an oasis in a desert of blank stares. He smiles, showing teeth. "If you could put in a kind word to Barnes, if you see him. You're more persuasive than I would be." Barnes, his sometime enemy and rival, no love lost there. But ah, the tech. Another great equalizer. The differences they can put aside for the promise of a brighter, shinier tomorrow. "Tell him it'll help me maintain him. That ought to pique his interest."

"Persuasive? Me?" Yes, guilty as charged, accent trending harder English than naught. Scarlett laughs, shaking her head ever so slightly. "I know who they hired for the face of these operations, and assuredly, Mr. Stark, it wasn't me. Captain Rogers for the American standard of upstanding goodness, you for the charm via experience, and we'll split the difference on Carol for a woman. Next to the trifecta, I'm merely there to maintain a certain discretion." What sort, she'll leave it to others to decipher. Not a girl who fishes for compliments so much as she wields truth as a shield, or a blade, alternating as need be. "You solve that and how many exciting other applications must it lead to? Meanwhile, I may focus on the stitching of adequate gloves."

Tony glances to Scarlett's hands. Just the mention of stitching has his mind working on futuristic gloves that fit seamlessly, melding to the shape of one's hands. It would require some sort of polymer… Everything in this broken world is a problem in need of fixing for a mind like his. Half-distracted by polymers that haven't been invented (yet), he says, "I'm sure Barnes is a sucker for a pretty face. I know he likes redheads." Bitter much, Tony? Well, yes. Maybe not over this. There's no rivalry when the girl is gone. "It doesn't matter, I'll give him a call either way."

What would he think, this plutocrat wrapped in ambition, if he knew the origin of that redhead shuttling into the arms of another and leaving the office empty as much as the heart? The gambit Scarlett played, in days gone crisp into the book of history, isn't something she touches upon at that very moment. The knowledge is there, always, secreted away into the other mound of thoughts, notions, and conversational points invariably spun up the way Tony considers how he might stretch plastic or find a new method of storing kinetic energy into a battery. "I can. Two stones, one bird. Chance of hitting on a response seems fairly high."

She remains so rosy in his memory, but maybe someday the cracks of reality will mar the perfect imagine. And that perfection comes from having lost her, because the only thing Tony Stark loves more than technology is twisting the knife. He takes a long drink and nods. "Good," he says. "I don't think he'll object." He glances at Scarlett sidelong. There's something there his quick mind is trying to wrap itself around. Details, subtleties. Something between the redhead and the soldier? …nah. "We'll see what there is to see," he says with a thin smile. "You'll be amazed." Because amazing people is what he does. He's Tony "Fucking Amazing" Stark.

Ah, Pepper of distant memory, Pepper of current concerns, Pepper of future rescues. The world moves on and still, the crystallized form of her at a moment in time will live on in a belljar in Tony Stark's memory. Fear that. He probably conjure up her metallic likeness just a more efficient assistant.

Scarlett sips her wine, ignorant of any risk, lost to the rhythm of the guitar and the tumbling baritone voice of the singer. "I have no doubts of that. Trying to build bridges among the team is rather why I am there. Quite literally."

Tony smiles crookedly. Pepper pristine in his memory where she can't be touched. It makes it okay, doesn't it? For Tony's gaze to stray to the waitress when she smiles at him. He raise his glass to her, then lifts it to his lips, and he tells Scarlett, "We need someone like you," he says. "There are a lot broken people with jagged edges. They don't always fit together so well without cutting each other. I don't envy you. Have you met Hope? She's been staying at the manor. You two might get along."

Rogue goes home.

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