2020-04-09 - Like Braided Steel


Social call turns more formal request but then things get derailed by a visiting Jackal.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Thu Apr 9 06:07:42 2020
Location: Cover Story

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Theme Song



Just after 7PM, sunny still, and nearly 60…it is a lovely day in New York! Loki has actually donned a pair of pinstriped black pants, a matching vest and a long sleeved white shirt that's got the sleeves rolled up. The attire looks like he stepped out of a circa 1950's movie, and yet he wears it with perfect aplomb. The door is open out front, and he's presently sweeping, with an actual broom. By hand.

Okay, that's not a very divine pastime, but hey…he seems to be enjoying himself. He's even wearing a 'newboy' style cap at a jaunty angle as he works and whistles.

The song? Nothing many on Midgard would know, but catchy!

7pm. Having just arrived back in Manhattan from a trip overseas, Pepper is honestly exhausted, but this stop is on her way home and one of the gifts she is carrying is perishable. Dressed down in comparison to her usual, her seafoam green short sleeved blouse, calf length sienna-brown skirt, and simple ballet flats were clearly chosen for comfort while traveling.

With a tote bag in hand partially obscured by the natural wool-colored cardigan draped over her arm, she steps into the bookstore and knocks on the open-standing door to announce her arrival.

"Good evening," she calls over to Loki when she sees him sweeping. It's honestly endearing seeing the man (Prince?) doing something so simply domestic when she knows he's fully capable of keeping this place spotless with a simple application of his magical abilities.

"Good evening, Miss Potts…how lovely to see you again." Loki sets the broom aside, and takes a hanky from his back pocket to wipe his hands, and then doffs his hat and gets his brow too before it is tucked away, the hat donned once more, and finally a hand offered to the woman in welcome. Honestly, he /feels/ like a circa 1950's storekeeper! Even has a proper New York accent.

Chilly green eyes are actually a bit warm, he's having a little fun it seems. "Forgive me, but you look a bit tired, would you care to sit and have some tea? There's a pot of Tie Guan Yin steeping as we speak." And really, he's a god of Trickery, all things considered, playing roles is definitely something he does for fun!

Amused by how far Loki is willing to take this role, Pepper offers him a bright smile and shakes his hand when offered, actually taking a moment to remember and put on the Connecticut accent she grew up with. It's very mild, but it's there. "I would love some tea. I just got back in from visiting our Hubei offices and thought I'd stop in on my way home."

She doesn't mention the tote bag quite yet, there's still plenty of time. "How have you and Her Highness been? We've not had a chance to talk in a little while."

He holds the door for her, and then ushers Pepper into the store to the sitting area before bustling to get the tea. He returns with a tea service, and a small plate of what looks to be almond cookies to go with the tea. His own it taken black, but there's cream, lemon, honey, and sugar cubes available if she'd wish.

A moment to pour the tea, Pepper's offered first, she's the guest after all. Loki smiles then. "Milady Wife is a bit vexed with some goings on, well enough overall, however. And how was your trip, productive and not too vexing, I hope."

Having settled with the tote bag by her feet and her cardigan over the back of her chosen chair, Pepper offers a quiet thanks for the tea. "It was a bit rushed, but that's usually par for the course. But I at least had enough time to pick up a few gifts while I was there." And this is when she reaches into the tote bag and pulls out a large and … honestly not terribly appealing looking sack of odd, potato-like objects.

"I got these for Sigyn, if she might be willing to try cooking with them. They're lotus roots. I had the most amazing soup there one evening for dinner, and while I couldn't get anyone to share a recipe with me, I was able to determine that it was made with lotus roots and pork ribs."

Once they sit, Loki removes the cap, rolling it up and tucking it into his belt. "Oh, you didn't need to get any gifts, that was very thoughtful of you, Miss Potts. Especially in light of the circumstances." He can't help but laugh at the sight of the puzzling tubers, and then mmms, as when she explains her rationale. "Oh, if anyone can figure something out, it is Sigyn, that's a certainty."

He'll be sure to let her know the two known ingredients. "Honestly, I'm convinced that even without sorcery, or hearth magic that Sigyn could make a five course meal with water and a lump of coal. A /delicious/ meal at that."

"If anyone could make world class rock soup, it would definitely be Sigyn," Pepper offers amusedly. She sets the bag of likely VERY illegally imported produce aside gingerly to avoid the risk of bruising the lotus roots, then offers the rest of the tote bag to Loki.

From the way she's holding it out, two things are clear. First, the remaining contents of the bag are on the heavy side for her. Secondly, the spider tattoo is gone from her arm as if it had never been there. "This is for you. I couldn't resist."

"In any of the nine realms at that." Loki says with a smirk. Legal-schmegal, a gift is never better than when it breaks a few rules. At least that's how Loki looks at things. The Liesmith notes the signs of strain, moving swiftly to take up the bag with a surprised smile. "Again, very thoughtful."

Glacier-heart green eyes are almost glowing as he examines the contents of the bag, curious as to what could not be resisted.

The bag contains multiple boxes. A wooden one that fills the entire bottom of the tote and seems to be the source of the bag's weight, one only half as wide, one long and narrow, and the last too small to contain anything larger than two pink erasers laid end to end. The last one is also wooden instead of paperboard, but all have labels with Chinese characters on them.

"Honestly, one item caught my eye, but you kind of need all the rest to make it worthwhile." She very clearly doesn't specify which is the one item.

Fortunately even without AllSpeak, Loki is conversant in Chinese, several dialects in fact. He'll read the labels and then take the boxes out, laying them on the table for study, clearly engaged by the puzzle they represent if the smile is any indication. One by one the boxes are opened, and the contents examined, weighed and assessed in turn to try and determine the one that caught Papper's rather educated eye!

Delighted, he studies. "Clearly the lotus inkstone inkslab is what caught your eye." Deftly, long fingers assemble the beautiful wooden brush stand, and then the brush is examined. "Beautiful workmanship, Miss Potts, exquisite." And then finally he takes out the inkstick.

Delight plays across ancient features, clearly he rather likes getting gifts! Nothing for it but to get some water and suitable paper, and give it a try right then. It is a measure of his engagement that he doesn't even eat any cookies!

At Loki's complete distraction, Pepper can only grin. Thank you is always an acceptable response to a gift, but the way to tell is something is truly appreciated, watching the recipient abandon everything else is usually a pretty reliable indicator. He even skipped the cookies!

"Actually, no, it wasn't the inkstone that caught my eye," she comments, and sips at her tea as Loki skitters off in search of water and paper. Yes, she's going to leave him to guess some more. Three chances left.

Oh, he's completely distracted, it is almost a childlike glee when the nearly three-thousand year old man scarpers to get the water and paper. He writes a traditional Chinese prayer, his brush strokes a little rough at first, but old skill returning swiftly. "A prayer for good health." He waits for the ink to dry, and then very carefully rolls it up and binds the prayer with a short length of ribbon. "Thank you, Miss Potts. Truly." He looks thoughtfully at the remaining objects, then nods. "Well, if not the slab, then my second guess would be the brush stand. It is surely rather eye catching."

Pepper chuckles and shakes her head no, claiming one of the almond cookies while watching him write out the prayer. Really. She should have known that he'd already be familiar with Chinese calligraphy. "It wasn't the stand either."

This has made delaying getting home SO worth it. Watching Loki act like a kid with a new toy has pretty much made her entire month. But then, that thought reminds her of the other and far less pleasant reason she'd wanted to stop in and talk with the Prince, and likely her expression betrays the change in her mood.

"Oh dear, I'm usually much better than this at guessing games." Loki studies the woman intently, and then the slab, the brush, the stand, and the…"The Inkstick, then. The pattern inlaid is also rather eye catching." In addition it would sort require both brush, and inkslab, so it seems a good guess.

Loki can be very flighty, he /is/ a being of chaos after all, a Trickster. That said, he is also capable of living in the moment very much, and this is one of those times. Still, he can see that Pepper has something on her mind, and quirks a brow. "Oh, I know that look." A soft chuckle. "What can Loki do for you, Miss Potts?"

Pepper smiles again, nodding this time as Loki finally guesses correctly, but it's not as bright as previous ones. And Loki might be enjoying the heck out of that calligraphy set, but he's still observant.

"I… heard some rather concerning information not too long ago. Someone is planning to target Stark Industries, with magic, because we're a tech company. I want to get wards put into place before they can do anything to protect SI's employees. I've already had a protection sigil created to incorporate into the manfacturing stamp put on every part that Stark Industries uses or purchases, but," she pauses and looks at her hands. "I'm honestly more worried about the people than the things."

"Good there was no wager attached." Loki says with a smirk as he finally guesses right.

He frowns faintly. "Well, that's a daunting prospect. Do you know who?"

Musing, he meets Pepper's tired gaze. "It is commendable to worry more for the people than the goods, most modern companies would have had different priorities." Leaning back, he crosses one leg over the other rest a hand to his cheek as he studies. "Of course…Stark International is a large company, protecting the entirety of the staff is a massive undertaking." A hand raised. "I am not saying that I am *unwilling*, but it will take time and considerable effort.

"Honestly, protecting the employees individually will be surprisingly easy. I'll have the protection sigil embedded into new employee badges and get them sent out to all SI employees internationally. It's the buildings themselves that I think might be targeted, which will of course put anyone inside at risk."

She looks at Loki again. "What sort of compensation would you require to ward Stark Tower here in Manhattan and then every SI owned or leased building internationally?"

"First, I'd like to see the sigil, just to be sure that it won't require investiture with magic." Because that's a thing. He nods then, looking like he's relieved. "Ah, of course then, just the buildings, starting with Stark Tower." And then she gets to the part Loki /loves/, the bargaining. "Well…" He purrs. "…my coin of choice is favors, Miss Potts. Are you able to offer such things on behalf of Stark International? Or did you have other remuneration in mind?"

The sigil? OH. Pepper digs into her shoulder bag and brandishes her phone. After a few moments of tappng at the screen she offers it to Loki to look at. The protection sigil — one drawn by WAND agent Koa Turner is depicted there and identified as a vectored image.

"I was speaking with WAND agents Kurita and Turner when we discovered the information. Agent Turner created that for me. I think it's supposed to be stackable, as in multiple copies of it in close proximity add up their protection instead of nullifying each other." But what does she know? She freely admits to how Muggley a Muggle she is despite her nerducopia of esoteric knowledge. She can even toss out a few cusswords in Romulan.

Up at the front, the shop bell rings to announce a visitor. Dressed with the hood of his coat, Ambrose does wince as he always does when he doesn't manage to slip in sans sound. Closing the door behind him, he makes his way to the front desk. His motions are slower, careful, as if he were recovering from illness.

"Your highness?" he does call out, less stridently than normal, still attempting manners by tone. His hand does end up on the desk in order to rest some of his weight upon it. From within the shadows of his hood, his eyes shine continually at a low Bane-glow.

The Sigil. Loki studies it, and then mmphs. "Actually, that's quite good." Loki is not easily impressed, but it seems Master Turner's effort here qualified. "Multiple disciplines, very cleverly woven together." A firm nod. "So…yes, they would appear to be cumulative, which was a particularly clever bit of spell crafting, Agent Turner knows his stuff. Naturally, warding a full building and the grounds surrounding is a whole different matter."

Loki looks up just before the door opens and the bell sounds, a smile offered to Ambrose. "Over here, Lieutenant." Ah, that sitting area. And ooh, there's hot tea.

Pepper nods at Loki's assessment of the sigil before accepting her phone back. She turns to look at the door and while Loki is beckoning Ambrose over, she's studying the man himself. And he looks unwell. She knows that look only too well — Tony has worn that same look far too many times for her comfort.

She turns a concerned look to Loki before standing and walking over toward Ambrose, but she's still cognizant enough to not actually try to touch him. "And almond cookies," she adds onto the tea offer in a softer voice. She really wants to make him lie down and smother him under about eighteen blankets.

It's likely written plain as day on her face.

"Ah, your highness…and Miss Potts, good evening." Straightening from what was a heavier lean on the counter, Ambrose does make his way over to the sitting area. He still seats himself on one of the plush chairs' arms rather than completely in it, as if to be at risk of melting into the comfort too much otherwise.

"I will stay for a brief cup of tea, thank you…and for one cookie." His hand lifts to brush back the hood of his jacket to reveal hair gone entirely starlight-silver in counter to his youthful looks. Regardless, the haggard shadows beneath his eyes accent their Bane-glow, a distant candleflame deep within his pupils. To Loki, he then offers a lingering bow at the waist.

"Thank you, your highness, for your assistance. I…do not know how I would have fared otherwise. Miss Potts, have no fear, I am fine." Ambrose smiles with enough gumption to show at least one dimple.

Oh, Ambrose definitely has looked better. No question. Loki's gaze is also touched with concern, he definitely approves of the caution she displays however. The fact she's waxing mothering is not lost on and is highly HIGHLY amusing TO Loki. "Hello Ambrose, and welcome." Loki's not at all dressed as usually, he looks like a 50's shopkeeper in a black vest and pants with white pinstripes, and a old style white shirt with the sleeves rolled up.

"You had my Son and his Raven there, I suspect you would have muddled through, Lieutenant Atherton. I must say that Oliver person was an ass." He returns the smile, and pours the fine tea for the man.

Pepper can't help it. She catches herself staring at Ambrose's hair. That is NOT some trendy hair dye job, she can tell that much. And this whole perching on the arm of a chair? No. Tony does that kind of crap.

So, before returning to her own seat, she picks up her shoulder bag and uses that to push on Ambrose's arm to try and get him to fall over from the arm of the chair and into the chair proper. Sit. Correctly. Or she'll MAKE you sit correctly. And she'll go get those eighteen blankets while she's at it.

"Who is this this 'Oliver' person? You make him sound like a street urchin that sings about wanting an extra helping of dinner."

Ambrose assays a laugh at Loki's commentary. Its sound is quiet and hollow and while sympathetic to the opinion…also hurt, in a way. "He…did not used to be as such, Oliver. His honor has led him astray." His regard of the Trickster falls to the tea tray and its steaming cups, its plate of pale, delicate cookies. "I would empathize, but…" A circling gesture towards himself is followed by another brief spate of chuckling, still at heart the wicked curling of delight behind his teeth barely shown. "I will show him no mercy next we meet. He was…an old friend of mine…and my platoon's Sergeant beneath my leadership. He has gone astray," the Jackal explains to Pepper's question."

The shove to his arm has him bunching up his shoulder near to his ear and giving Pepper a flat look. "I think you misunderstand how best to communicate your concerns, Miss Potts. I do not have time to sit, though I thank you for your concern. This is but a short visit at best. Truly, tea will be of better help than anything else as such at this time," the Brit insists tiredly.

Of course Loki was there when the silvering of the Ambrose pate occurred. "Perhaps, but…he needs to be dealt with as such now, Lieutenant. Him /and/ his little dog too." Because eldritch horror wolves are so like Toto. Probably can't even play the guitar!

Loki nods approval, and then bares teeth in a very not so friendly looking grin. "Oh, no no, Ambrose…you have to think tactically here. Fun as smiting that arrogant twat might be we need to take out his boss too, that means /tracking/ him back to Gurim Mostfoula." The smile even warms to only arctic chill. "THEN we show no mercy."

Loki /barks/ laughter at the twist Pepper turns to Oliver. "Oh, well played, Miss Potts. Well played indeed."

Pepper gives Ambrose a possibly piercing look, the kind she's used to using on Tony when he has bee awake for seventy six hours straight, or something similarly moronic. She even disregards Loki's obvious amusement at her Oliver comment to keep staring at the now silver-haired man.

"You look like you've been inventing for over seventy hours without a break. Yes, I know only too well what that looks like. Are you going to get some proper rest, or will I have to treat you like the cranky and overtired four year old that is my boss?"

Ambrose with shoulder still lifted in clear warning against further fussing, manages to glance over at the Asgardian mage. "I have been thinking tactically for years. I know where mercy should be shown or denied well enough. Oliver does not require complete knee-caps or his entire body-volume's worth of blood to report back to that bedamned cur."

His attention returns to the red-head again and he puts on a severely polite expression. "I have not slept for nigh on one-hundred and ten years, Miss Potts. I will survive another day more without it. What you are observing is my person at rest. Again, I appreciate your concern, but tea would be more appropriate at this time."

"Your highness." Loki is considered again. "You feel that we might track Oliver to Gurim, yes? How do you think this would be managed?"

"Sounds like Mister Stark has a serious lack of sense for his limits." Pot. Kettle. Black. "Still, he generally does good works, if nothing else he had to sense to partner with you, Miss Potts. Perhaps your abundance of good sense will rub off on him in time."

A delighted chuckle at Ambrose's ruffling of feathers. "And I have been thinking circuitously for millennia, Master Atherton. And fighting. And studying magic. Forgive me if I was concerned - your display the other night was one to inspire me to some concern that you were less than in control, if I erred, well, my mistake then."

A nod to the last question. "Conceivably. Oliver took something very essentially 'you', something you still have remnants of, there's a magical principle - 'sympathy' - in layman's terms things that are or were once one draw to each other, so…" A shrug. "…we might be able to use that."

After another moment of looking at Ambrose piercingly, she finally appears to relent, setting her bag down again and returning to her seat. She takes a delicate sip of her tea and then asides to Loki, "It hasn't happened yet. I'm not going to hold my breath."

Then, with her eyes still on her tea she offers the last bit of scolding she intends to dole out today. Her words crisp and professional and oh so displeased. It's probably the same tone that has made Tony cringe many, many times. "Then perhaps, Lieutenant Atherton, you should sit in that chair like the proper 'iinsan muhtaram you act like you had been the last time you slept."

No, she doesn't speak Arabic, but she HAS learned a few words here and there. Her pronunciation is still rather, well, Spanish and she likely completely butchered the term for 'gentleman'.

His motion reaching to scratch blunt nails along the frosty paleness of stubble on his jawline normally dark is unhurried. With eyes averted off to one side, a chest-rising inhale then leaves him silently.

"No, your highness, you are not mistaken." His voice seems smaller now, shoulders drooping. "It was a moment of lost temper. It does happen but rarely, but never in good circumstance. Allow me to return at a better time for this endeavor. I know of magical sympathy well enough and my mate will be able to better ascertain how much I have to dedicate to this cause…perhaps additional wisdom as well."

Ambrose then rises off the arm of the chair, having to grab the back of it to steady himself. "I did promise Talbot only a short visit and I must be a gentleman about it. Thank you for your hospitality, Prince Loki. Miss Potts, a delight as always." A shallow bow is offered, fist to his chest, and the Jackal turns, intending to depart.

"Well, you'd probably find it hard to continue living without breath, so on the whole, most laudable, Miss Potts." Loki makes sure teacups are kept warm, and yes, that there's cookies. It is a measure of his focus that Loki /still/ hasn't taken one of those cookies, and Sigyn baked them so they're /fabulous/. He can't help but smirk at her final sally at the Master Thief though.

He looks to the man as he speaks, and nods approval of the admission of his mental state. "Oh good, I do rather like being right." Loki says with a charming smile. "As to temper - believe me, as one who's on occasion indulged in some wrath, I quite understand." He nods then as the man rises, but when he needs to grip the couch Loki looks to him. "Perhaps I should send you home more…expeditiously? I assure you, not via The Ways." If Ambrose indicates permission, Loki will murmur a quick spell and then blow /something/ off his palm. "Home." And after a brief moment of sensing motion…between one blink and the next…Ambrose is.

Pepper doesn't look at directly at Ambrose again, but sees him disappear from her peripheral vision. She takes a deep breath and sets her tea down, not really wanting it anymore.

"So you were there when that happened," she starts off quietly. "Are you able to tell me what happened?" The jet lag is definitely starting to catch up with her, but she refuses to just go home until she at least understands what happened, if not why or what can be done about it.

Loki notes the reaction from Pepper, and turns his gaze her way, settling into his seat once more and folding one leg over the other as he contemplates the rather tired looking but obdurate woman. "I was there when that happened, yes. As were some others." Loki looks at her assessingly, and then leans forward, leg uncoiling as he rests his arms on his knees and laces his fingers loosely together.

"I can in broad strokes, yes. Master Atherton had a companion soldier long ago, a friend, his Sergeant named Oliver Wright." He holds up his hand, a small illusion of the man appearing, turning about like one of the holo displays people see in the movies or a computer game on the character customization screen. "Sergeant Wright is back after many years presumed dead, and tied up in a nefarious plot of some dire potentiality. This Oliver person is an arsehole of truly monumental proportions, and drained a significant amount of his life force, a catastrophic amount in fact. Myself and another donor helped him out with that, but he's not quite recovered yet."

Pepper listens without interrupting, her eyes studying the tiny depiction of Oliver Wright and then focusing on Loki again when he mentions having helped Ambrose. "What more can be done to help him? What can I do to help?" She doesn't say what else she's thinking, but it's likely been written on her face since the Jackal entered the bookstore — he looks like walking wounded, like someone who isn't going to get better. And that thought honestly scares her.

If someone as long-lived as Ambrose has been injured this badly, what chance does she have with anything? Or, gods forbid, Tony? And now she's very much regretting that she'd packed all of the other little gifts she'd bought while overseas in her luggage.

"My hope is that we'll be able to find what was taken, and then restore him." Loki pauses, weighing what to say and how, and then nods. "That attack…it had a very real chance of killing him, and it was hubris and foolish pride that he felt he should come here. I have every intention of helping Lieutenant Atherton, but at the moment there's very little to do…for ANYone to do."

He ponders Pepper, her earnest desire to help. "How much do you know of Ambrose's nature, Miss Potts?"

"I know a little. I know that if he touches someone he drains them somehow," and wow does Pepper think that is a HIDEOUS curse, "but I don't know any details. I also know that he sometimes he's a small canid, but again, I don't know any details." Other than he's cheeky, doesn't hesitate to beg for food, and it has something to do with a diamond-studded leather neckpiece, but she's not about to reveal that to Loki. Just in case.

She's quiet for a moment before she looks at Loki. "Would possibly being able to track down Oliver Wright be of any help?" It would be VERY unkosher, but it wouldn't be the first time JARVIS has done some rather shady data mining for her, or for Tony.

"This curse is semi-sentient, and they're twined together rather like the strands of steel cable." Loki says thoughtfully. "The problem is that he and it are so intertwined that he cannot sustain his life without it anymore, so…they're something of a package deal. Whatever master Oliver serves seems to have a similar sort of thing, though less hungry and more nihilistic. And that's what attacked him." He nods about the other form. "Jackal, he can turn into a jackal."

Loki's gaze, all of it, focuses on Pepper. It is…weighty. "If you think you might be able to do so, I would say that would be a tremendous aid."

"If the resources I have on hand can't find the guy, I will hire someone to hunt him down." And no, Pepper is not even in the same time zone as joking. She is completely and utterly serious. She reaches into her bag and pulls her phone again. Holding it in her hand like a Star Trek communicator instead of a proper phone, she speaks to it without bothering to wake the device first.

"JARVIS," she starts, and the phone's screen lights up a blank arc reactor blue, which does not at all resemble what Loki saw on the phone earlier. "I need you to start a full search for a person named Oliver Wright." She looks at Loki again then. "Could you make that holographic image of the man again, please?"

"Illusory, not holographic…I'm a deity of magic, Miss Potts." His correction is polite, and Loki is clearly more amused than anything. Still, precision is important! "But very well…I'll be happy to. And in truth I /did/ pattern what I made after the customization screen in Aion." Yes, Loki…God of Mischief and Fire, has MMOd. NATURALLY in a PVP centric game!

The image reappears, in fact he makes it a full scale 1 to 1 representation of the Seargeant, and it stands with arms extended, turning slowly.

Pepper offeres a hint of an amused smile at the terminology correction from Loki. She aims her phone's camera at the illusion and lets JARVIS record the image in its entirety. "I'll be honest, I couldn't ever enjoy playing a game like that. I can't handle PVP, I'd end up throwing my computer across the room."

When JARVIS has collected enough data, the AI's voice comes through the phone, still sounding far more 'alive' despite the device's tiny speakers than Alexa or Siri could ever hope to achieve. "I have collected Oliver Wright's appearance, Miss Potts, Prince Loki. I will begin promptly." He's likely already started his data mining, but semantics. "Miss Potts, may I have your voice authorization to allocate processor cycles to this search?"

"Of course. You have my authorization, JARVIS. Please proceed," she tells the phone, and then the screen goes dark again. Dropping her phone back into her bag, she looks at Loki. "If there's anything at all to find, JARVIS will find it."

A snort of amusement, and Loki rubs the back of his neck. "That's actually rather what ended up happening, Miss Potts." And there's no computers in sight, anywhere. No wifi either, not in Cover Story.

"What a polite minion, Miss Potts. It /is/ a computer, or am I mistaken?"

Just because he's a deity doesn't mean he can't find tech interesting, and unlike many folks from Asgard and the other realms, he has been on Midgard a long enough time to have lived through a great many advances. He's more tech saavy than a lot of Asgardians, though merely competent, like an average Joe.

"Fantastic, Miss Potts…or may I call you Pepper?"

With a soft chuckle, Pepper acknowledges both Loki's reaction to the PVP game and his other words. She can very easily picture him flinging a computer against a wall with enough force to shatter the thing in tiny pieces. And then laughing about it while getting a broom. "Didn't I ask you to call me Pepper weeks ago?"

The comment about JARVIS is the thing that makes her amusement fade again when she mentally rewinds and registers his words. "About JARVIS…" Her eyes flick to different part of the room before she continues. "He is, but no one outside of Stark Industries knows that. It's too risky to let anyone know, especially for JARVIS. Someone will want to shut him down, simply because he exists. And, being bluntly honest here, he is a lot more successful at keeping Tony safe and sane than I am." But mostly because he is always in the lab with Tony and he doesn't have to sleep.

A moment of thought, and then Loki nods. "Ah, so you did, Pepper. What can I say, you emanate such propriety at times it just makes me want to be all formal." Loki says with a charming smile and a warm laugh. Actually…her guestimate is actually not too far off. He also cancelled his cable subscription afterwards.

"Oh, rest assured, Pepper. Loki Laufeyson is very adept at keeping secrets." He then looks quizzical. "So…how soon can we expect results, I can only assume it won't be as shown in cinema and television." A moment of concentration and the air is full off snippets of people doing global searches in dozens of snips. "I'm in!" 'Got him!' "Got a hit…". Yeah, movie and TV magic at its finest!

JARVIS can totally act as a WiFi hotspot if Pepper ever needed, so she's never thought about being without an internet connection. Not in this day and age. When Loki promises to keep JARVIS' secret, she nods in clear relief. Keeping the AI's non-organic status is always a bit like walking a tightrope for her, especially as she refuses to treat him like any other soulless voice-activated search engine.

"There's no way to know," she answers honestly. "It could be as quick as a few hours, it could be months. It really depends on how much of an electronic footprint Oliver Wright has." Loki himself, for example, almost doesn't have one at all. Pepper? Every second of every one of her days can be tracked to the tiniest minutiae.

Ironically, until that few months of trying to understand gaming, Loki's never bothered WITH an internet connection. The lack isn't anything he's thought of much. A wink at her relief. "Trust me, Pepper. I keep my given word." And that much is true, he DOES keep his given word. Getting him to give it…that's another matter.

The illusions fade and he nods. "Very well then. Even /I/ had trouble with some of the things they routinely pull in film and television." His normal Asgardian accent has returned by now. "Miss Potts…/Pepper/, you look weary. I offer you the hospitality of my home should you wish to rest here, if not, may I offer you the same return spell Master Atherton has partaken of already?"

Mentioning the way TV and movies handle computer data mining? Yeah, that makes Pepper scrunch up her nose like she smelled something unpleasant. "I am by no means a computer expert and even I know how unrealistically fake that is." She can only shake her head. "One of the many reasons why I haven't watched a network TV show in… gosh. Years."

She actually takes a few moments to consider Loki's offer of staying over for the night or being magicked home. Ultimately, she refuses both. "As truly wonderful as both of your offers are, I really should let Dmitri drive me home." She then offers in a fake-conspiratorial whisper, "He worries." And then back in her normal voice, "And he's got the car waiting outside."

With that, she collects her cardigan, shoulder bag, and the now empty tote before heading for the door. "I think we'll need to talk again another day about the wards for Stark Tower. Perhaps next weekend?"

"Pepper, you are a woman of grace and wit, and I am very pleased at the prospect of speaking with you again. Indeed, I have been considering, and I would like you to accept a small token of my esteem." He moves to his counter, ere she departs, taking out a fine wooden case roughly the size of a cigar box, and offers it to her. The wood is a rich blue-black, and appears at first to be lacquered. At first, but no, the hue is utterly natural and glossy.

"As to your Dmitri, well, fair enough. Reliable help is hard to find at times, wouldn't want him to fuss or feel unappreciated."

Pausing as Loki offers her a 'small token' (yeah, right), Pepper accepts the box, immediately admiring the deep color, and marveling anew when she realizes it's NOT lacquered. "Should I open this now, or when I get home?" Of course in her mind, the box itself is an excellent gift. And, Loki did just remind her that Dmitri is indeed still waiting outside.

"At home, Pepper Potts." Loki very courteously shows her to the door. "My regards to your Dmitri, and your mister Stark, and to you as well, Jarvis." He will, if permitted, kiss the back of one of Pepper's hands, and then lets her on her way.

The small token? His pen. that clockwork pen of clearly exotic manufacture. Inside are nine nibs, each characteristic of each of the nine realms, as well as ink…of sorts. It is crystallized, and the pen extracts it..somehow. The result is each crystal will last for a very long time, nine crystals as well, each of a different gem like hue.

With the black box held gingerly in her hands, Pepper takes her leave, offering Loki one last wave good night before stepping out onto the sidewalk where a dark red high end sedan pulls up for her to get in.

Moments later, the car pulls away to disappear into the neverending Manhattan traffic.

Back at Cover Story, Loki closes up for the night, and then scries the car, watching over Pepper Potts for her drive home.

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