1042/Legal Repercussions

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Legal Repercussions
Date of Scene: 07 April 2020
Location: Stark Tower / The Four Seasons, NYC
Synopsis: Tony finds out a high-schooler pre-empted a new design, and also discovers that his HR manager is certifiably insane...and takes decisive steps.
Cast of Characters: Tony Stark, Peter Parker, Natasha Romanoff

Tony Stark has posed:
"I'm not even sure I've met this guy before."

The legal department of Stark Industries has well-appointed offices on the twenty-sixth floor with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Manhattan and tasteful modern art adorning the walls. Tony and Natalie, his wife (as far as the public is concerned), walk purposefully down one of the narrow walkways between two sets of cubicles that lead to a glass-walled office at the other end of the floor. Tony spends the entire time glancing down at his phone, occasionally lifting a hand to wave in a general direction when he hears his name or some other excited greeting.

"An 'urgent legal issue' makes it sound like I'm about to get hit with another lawsuit," he continues, glancing up at Nat for a moment, "And I guarantee I haven't done anything to warrant that. Recently. Probably."

He sighs, deposits his phone back in the breast pocket of his blazer, and moves towards the office door to wrap on it noisily with his knuckles and smile disingenuously at the person within. As he does, he mutters out of the side of his mouth to Nat.

"Someone needs to teach these guys not to bury the lead."

Peter Parker has posed:
The lawyer who comes in is one of the most playful yet successful members of the team - Leonard Sibelius, Esq. A talker, a story-teller, a spellbinder. He seems to love the courtroom, and it is to Tony's benefit that the courtroom loves him back.

"Mister STARK, it is a pleasure to see you again. Maureen is thrilled with the vacation getaway you gave us for the Monroe case verdict."

He puts his valise down, then opens it. "Yes, to the matter at hand. It is about the new feed system you have for one of your rather...energetic designs for your armory of armors. I have to say that unfortunately...someone seems to have already crafted a similar system and submitted it for patent a good year and a half before your design was even created. I have verification from the U.S. Patent office that your design is too close to this, hmmm..." He checks the paper. "Yes, Peter B. Parker. He was the one who is the original patent holder."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Nataiie smiles pleasantly, a hint of wryness in her eyes as she says "Ooohhhh, I dunno, I've been in your legal department, Tony. It could be from a backlog." She reaches one arm out and grasps both of Tony's shoulders, giving a little squeeze and reminding him "Best foot forward~" before he opens the door, at which point she peeks her head in after Tony, smiling brightly and waving four of her fingers, linked as if she's commandeering a puppet. "Helloooo! Thanks for waiting!" She says, coming off roughly a thousand times sweeter than, say, Natasha Romanoff ever would in public. This being Tony's issue, however, she takes a step back and lets him speak first, though her brow raises curiously at the thought of someone beating Tony to a patent. At least, somebody Natasha's never heard of, anyway.

Tony Stark has posed:
'Again?' Tony mouths at Nat, turning to raise his eyebrows at her when Mister Sibelius' attention is momentarily not on him. When the lawyer is looking at him again, however, Tony plasters on his 'I'm behaving' smile and clasps his hands behind his back. He doesn't sit down immediately, preferring to pace back and forth around the office as he listens to the news.

"Wait wait wait," he says suddenly, holding up at a hand to Leonard, "If this was already being manufactured I could've just bought a case instead of spending the weekend designing it from scratch. I scoured the market - nobody sells anything like this. What's this Parker guy's company called? Who does he work for?"

Tony moves to the desk, reaching across the try and snatch the paper from the lawyer and look it over himself.

Peter Parker has posed:
Sibelius nodded. "I had thought you might ask that, sir. So I had Ted do a background check. Here..."

He pulls out a slim presentation folder, opening it. "Ah! I see why, It...my word." He smiles apologetically. "It seems there is no corporate registry for Mr. Parker. Or, should I say, MASTER Parker..."

He smiles wryly.

"Apparently, Master Parker was only 16 when he submitted the patent."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natalie makes a little show of reeling slightly on her back heels, impressed. "... You're saying a kid built one of these at home?" She says, then smiles a little too amusedly at Tony with a sidelong look. "With a box of scraps?"
    She doesn't have to be, well, Tony to see some potential there, if it's legit.

Tony Stark has posed:
"So, what, a genius kid just cooking up patents in his parents' basement? A year and a half ago, right? He'd be, what, seventeen? Probably eighteen, now?"

The wheels in Tony's mind are already turning like the well-oiled machine that they compose. His brow furrows as he drops down into one of the chairs on the other side of the desk, half-reclining in it with an arm dangling over the back. Natalie's remark prompts him to turn bodily in the chair, with a look of mock horror.

"You married an original, Mrs. Stark. Nothing less."

He then turns back to Sibelius, looking all too much like a shark that just smelled blood in the water.

"Do you have his address in there? Whatever Peter B. Parker is coming up with these days, I want to put the Stark brand on it before he gets scooped up by Luthor or Kord. Only a matter of time."

Peter Parker has posed:
Sibelius nods. "Yes, we have it here." He turns a page, then frowns. "'Read Page 6?' Sorry, Mr. Stark, Ted apparently thinks there is something on..."

Then he gets to the page and frowns. He wordlessly hands it to Tony, letting him read.

"INTERESTS: Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Microtechnology, Computer Science


The next page has another notation.

INELIGIBLE FOR HIRE; See HR Administrator Philip Blevins.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natalie beams at Tony, a sly glint in her eyes as she replies, "Oh, I know it, Mr. Stark. Don't worry." That said, she moves closer to the table, gripping the back of a chair beside Tony, but not sitting down, merely peering curiously at the paper. It's been awhile since she's seen Tony in Headhunting Business Mode, and that was under... different but equally false pretenses than now. "Someone got to him first?"

Tony Stark has posed:
"Blevins? Who are all these people," Tony turns to ask Natalie with a furrowed brow, "I thought the company was just me, Pepper, and Happy. Why do I keep seeing all these other names?"

It's mostly a joke, but given Tony's ivory tower management style it isn't too much of a stretch to believe it as truth. He continues to glare at the paper for a moment before passing it over his shoulder to Nat, narrowed eyes still fixed on Sibelius.

"Ineligible for hire? I'm guessing - and excuse me if the arcane bureaucracy of corporate HR is beyond me - but shouldn't there be a reason here?"

"Pep - " he starts, before realising his long-suffering assistant isn't actually in the room and looking at Sibelius instead, "Can we get Phil on the phone?"

Peter Parker has posed:
Sibelius nodded. He reached over to the conference table phone, then hit the speed dial for HR.

After a few seconds, the phone clicked. "Human Resources, Stark Industries."
"Julie? It's Leonard. Is Phil in the office?"
"Let me check...uhm, no, sir. He's...well, he's in an informal meeting with other HR directors for other companies. At the Four Seasons, sir."
Sibelius frowned. "Hang on." He muted the phone. "Apparently our Mr. Blevins talks shop with the HR honchos of other companies. It's in a legal grey area, Mr. Stark. I've talked to him about it, but he says it is for headhunting purposes."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha smiles sympathetically to Sibelius, shaking her head as if to say 'don't worry about him' as if he hasn't dealt with this before, and saying "He's- he's kidding." while squeezing one of Tony's shoulder.
    She takes the paper and produces a pair of spectacles from her jacket pocket, placing them on her nose as she looks it over, until her eyes turn to Sibelius, arching one eyebrow at the admission.

Tony Stark has posed:
"Hi Julie," Tony offers in his most saccharine voice, reaching over to toggle the mute function on the phone off, "This is Tony Stark. Can you let Mister Blevins know that I'll be paying him a visit? Tell him no rush to get back from his meeting. I'll just come see him when he's available, okay? Nothing important. Bye bye now."

He doesn't wait for an answer, tapping the button to disconnect the call before turning to Sibelius. He's already up and out of his chair, moving around to the lawyer's side of the desk and dragging the keyboard for his computer in front of himself. He leans over the man as he types, the Stark Industries database flowing across the screen at a clip. Easy to do when you partially designed the whole thing.

"The Four Seasons, huh? Okay, that's the Four Seasons on ... Barclay. Okay."

A few more taps and he's in the HR database, bringing up Blevins' ID photo to put a name to the face. Satisfied, he exits out of the database and leaves the computer back on Sibelius' desktop where it began. It's then that he walks back around the desk towards Nat, hands in the pockets of his jeans.

"Want to hit up the Four Seasons for lunch?"

Peter Parker has posed:
Sibelius stood up. "Sir, before we confront Mr. Blevins...you should have full access to HR's files. Perhaps it might be prudent to see if there is a file on Master Parker. Even if someone is not hired, we should still have them on file if they interviewed with us." He looks to the computer. "I suspect he may wish to 'control the narrative' if we speak to him first."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natalie smiles wryly, putting her hand to her chest, and replies, "That sounds *great.*

Tony Stark has posed:
Tony looks torn for a moment. He's clearly got an idea in his head and like a dog with a bone he isn't happy to just let it go. But then, Sibelius raises a good point. He slowly, reluctantly moves back around the desk to the computer. He taps a few more keys, once more bringing himself back to the HR database with little to no regard for Leonard's personal space. Once he's in, he begins the search for Peter's file.

"I'll tell you right now, Len," Tony says quietly, eyes fixed on the screen, "This guy better have every social disorder under the sun to warrant passing him up. Can you imagine if WayneTech grab this guy? They'll have him building a better alarm system that one of those Gotham psychos takes four minutes to break into instead of three. He's wasted out there."

Then, mostly muttering to himself: "And a fortune in here."

He lifts his eyes from the screen for a moment to glance at Nat, smiling apologetically: "Won't be a sec, honey."

Peter Parker has posed:
The computer soon comes up with the search engine for HR. However, when PETER PARKER is inputted, no results come up.

Sibelius unmutes the phone. We can't find Parker in the database."
"He must be in the DNH section."
Sibelius frowned. "DNH?"
"...Do Not Hire, sir." As if all HR departments have such a section. "Just type in the name then hashtag DNH."

This does bring up results.


Interview September 18, 2018 for Intern Position."

HR Notes:
Although he seems very gifted, his work record is incredibly spotty. Of the six jobs he has held in the past six months, he has been fired from five of them for attendance problems, no-shows, distracted, and one instance where he was found asleep at his desk. Consideration for employment would be inadvisable.

Then Tony spots it. The file has a password lock on the rest of it.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    "Nono, take your time." Nat says kindly, pulling a seat back and sitting down finally, because high heels are for masochists and superheroines. Plus even Real Nat knows Tony will just be perturbed if his work ethic is disrupted. It's admirable, in a way!

Tony Stark has posed:
"Sleeping on the job. Spotty attendance. Distracted. Da da da ... this isn't so bad. I slept through a meeting this morning."

There's a wary, side-eyed glance at Natalie to whom, during said meeting, he had promised he was just resting his eyes and had heard every little thing it was the image consultant had to say. Absolutely every word. Definitely. Not sleeping at all.

He lowers his head down again, focusing on the screen as he types.

"He's locked part of the file," Tony announces to the room at large, typing in his own access code just to see if that'll work - surely Blevins would have thought to include the CEO in his security protocols, after all?

Peter Parker has posed:
Sibelius hmms. "Julie, would you know what password Blevins uses?"
A pause. "Hang on. Rick is checking."

About twenty seconds pass before Julie speaks up again. "Try 'Graveyard.' Capital G."

Typing 'Graveyard' brings up another section and a new designation for Parker's file. PLOT 62.

"The scrawny know-it-all questioned my ability to do my work by asking if there were other options I hadn't considered. Just what I need. We already have ONE erratic, barely-accountable super-genius and HE gets a pass because IT'S HIS COMPANY."

Another note.
"Richard noted the kid's IQ and suggested he might find work elsewhere, even considering his reprehensible work behavior. Well, tomorrow is the weekly meeting with the other HR honchos. Big group from 20 different companies - all on the Stark dime, of course. By the time the party's over, the party will be over for that snarky snotnose. He won't be able to get a job in this town even if HE offered to pay the COMPANY to let him work there...

"...that'll teach him a lesson."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Did you know a person could look simultaneously charmed, and deeply unimpressed by someone's hijinx? Natalie manages it. Still, hearing Tony speak Parker's summary aloud, she comments, "Sounds like he's either profoundly lazy, or... very... very busy."
    Natalie isn't privy to what Tony's reading, but she likely takes keen interest in the expressions that result from it.

Tony Stark has posed:
"Well, I know he's not jetting around in a scaled-down copy of my suit," Tony explains aloud, reading over the secure entries, "I already found her and put her on the payroll. So my guess is he's moonlighting or he's just, I don't know, really sleepy."

Once he's finished reading he moves away from the computer, turning the screen for Sibelius to get a look at it.

"Tell me, Len. You're the workplace relations law expert. What's the play on something like this? I get the feeling Phil is putting his own sore feelings ahead of the company. Think I can pay him a visit now?"

His eyes then shift up to Nat again, and there's a look of determination in them. Not very Tony-esque.

Peter Parker has posed:
Sibelius nods. "Sir, I wish to state a few things for the record. First, his actions open you up for a MASSIVE discrimination suit. I think this Parker could not only bring a case against SI for such a suit...he would WIN it."

He takes a deep breath. "Second...the designation is Plot 62. If this is truly his 'graveyard,' that means there are at least sixty-one applicants who might have been 'buried' in similar ways. And Lord alone knows how many after it, since this was 18 months ago. I wish to recall your assessment of his mental health earlier? I think you have a high-functioning sociopath as your head of Human Resources."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Remember that earliest expression? The charm has left it. Natalie leans back slightly and crosses her arms, and has to try to remember that she's the nice one. The really super harmless nice one. Meeting Tony's look, she softly says, "... Well. If I still represented Legal, my reccomendation would be to fire him." She says softly. Granted she was fired. Directly. Though not officially, as far as the records are concerned! "... I'm not though, so I reccomend you fire him... out of a canon." A beat passes. "Into the sun. Unofficially."
    She can be a LITTLE mean, she figures! A kid's having his life sabotaged!

Tony Stark has posed:
Natalie's words draw a broad grin from Tony as he looks up at her, offering a genuine smile that is beyond the usual song and dance they put on when they're out in public. It's just a flash, though, and then he's back to business. He looks down at the file on the computer screen, turning now to Sibelius.

"Alright, Len. I want you to work with Julie and IT to find all the files Blevins has locked down this way. Open them all up and review them again. If there's no glaring problem, I want us to reach out and offer them a place. Anywhere we've got a vacancy. Make space if you have to.There's an old Fujikawa office campus upstate - maybe we can set up a think tank or something. Anything to undo this graveyard shit, okay?"

He stands up straight, patting Leonard on the shoulder: "If you thought the last vacation was good, I'll set you up your own tropical island if you make this not a problem anymore, okay? They're surprisingly inexpensive. I can't afford a lawsuit. Not this year."

That said, he scoops up the paperwork from the desk and tucks it under his arm.

"I'm gonna pay Blevins a visit at the Four Seasons. I'll handle the Parker kid personally."

Peter Parker has posed:
Sibelius snaps to. "I'll work closely with Julie. We'll fix this before it becomes a public relations nightmare. I do hope that whatever you do to Blevins, that you will commit to two things. One, that whatever you do will have 'With Extreme Prejudice' as a designator. Second, I want everything we find on him. I think my larger office needs some decor and it would please me GREATLY to pin Blevins' HIDE to my office wall."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    This bloodthirsty atmosphere atmosphere is actually a little... nostalgic for Natasha. Maybe she could have done worse than to end up working here. Granted, it probably seems a lot more charming when you haven't personally been rubbing elbows with sociopaths for years before you find out.
    Natalie stands up when Tony stands up. Natalie seems to weigh Sibelius' requests with a back and forth tilt of her head and says. "That sounds reasonable. Tony, does that sound reasonable? You're the boss."

Tony Stark has posed:
"Very reasonable," Tony says murderously, his mouth a tight frown. Usually the business stuff is either fun or boring, but rarely is it enough to make him angry. His jaw is set in a firm line as he looks back towards Leonard, nodding his head firmly.

"I'm on it. And Len? I feel like we might've lost some business because of Blevins' mismanagement. Maybe something that needs compensation if you get my drift?"

Satisfied that he's already started to pile dirt onto Blevins' own grave, Tony moves towards the door and holds it open for Nat to exit first.

"I heard they do a great open-faced bacon club at the Four Seasons, actually."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natalie gives Tony a gracious little nod as he opens the door for her, stepping past as she coyly says "Do they? I'm staaaarving." She stops in the doorway, turning back and offering a little fingerwave and a brilliant smile, saying "Good to meet you, Leonard."

Peter Parker has posed:
Blevins is riding high.
He is enjoying the palatial setup of the Garden restaurant, and ten of his HR cronies from LexCorp to OsCorp to Roxxon were enjoying prime rib. An excellent cut of meat, in his opinion.

Donny, who ran OsCorp's HR department like a banana-republic El Jefe, sidled over to Phil. "Hey, this is great, but can you REALLY expense this?"
Blevins smiles. Donny was new to this group. He turned to the others, then called out, "Hey! Is everyone having FUN?"

Scattered replies gained strength in unison. "HELL, NO! WE'RE *WORKING!*"
Blevins turned his back to the laughter - always leave them laughing - and grinned to Donny. "It's a company meeting. DeDUUHHction."

Tony Stark has posed:
The orange-gold Audi R8 rolls to a stop outside the Four Seasons with Tony at the wheel. He climbs out and moves around to open the door for Natalie, just because he can get away with doing that while she's got her 'Rushman Mask' on. Once they're both out, he tosses the keys towards the valet and walks pointedly towards the doors. He knows the layout of the hotel fairling well, having eaten here a few times, and there's only one wrong turn before he makes his way to the restaurant area.

He takes a moment to look around, spotting the boisterous table of HR executives all enjoying their Stark-expensed meal. He glances over his shoulder to flash Nat a truly malicious little smile before he marches towards the group, pulling an empty chair from a nearby table and plopping it down at the end opposite Blevins.

"Hey, fellas," he says casually, craning his neck to look over the fare, "What's for lunch? Did you try the bacon club? Hey, hey!"

Getting the attention of one of the waitstaff, he slips them a generous tip before asking: "Can we have two of the bacon club sandwiches, thanks? I guess you can put it on my bill since I'm paying right?"

The last part is said more loudly to the group at large.

Peter Parker has posed:
Blevins hears the voice. It is possible for a guy to remain sitting and suddenly JUMP up to attention without his feet actually leaving the floor.

"MR. STARK!" Blevins' voice was a little too loud, but he was wearing his depreciating smile and warm demeanor. "This is an unexpected HONOR!" He turned to the others, who were looking decidedly subdued. "Guys...you know my boss, right?"

Of course they knew. It's most likely why their faces had gone to carefully neutral.

Blevins was still giving Tony that warm, pleasant smile. He had most likely given Parker that same smile as he told him, 'We'll call you as soon as we hear anything.'"

<"...teach him a lesson.">

Tony Stark has posed:
"Yeah, nice to see you, too, Phil," Tony says flippantly, leaning back in the chair with one arm dangling over the back of it. He's got his Tom Ford sunglasses back on, the dark glass partly obscuring his eyes as he regards the table of Human Resources honchos with a careful eye.

"And you guys. Let me guess? Managing the human resources needs of all the Fortune 500 giants, right? Obviously we'd die on the vine without you guys to keep the wheels turning. You know what? I'm honored. Honored to be sitting here with such vital cogs in the corporate machine."

"You know what, Phil?" he calls across the table to Blevins, "I'm happy to pay for all this. I'll tell you what, why don't we get some Screaming Eagle and make this a real party, huh?"

He moves a finger through the air across the neutral faces looking back at him, counting them: "Two or three bottles? Enough for a couple of toasts, right? Oh, hell, I'm being rude. I haven't introduced you all. This is my wife, Natalie." He gestures back towards Nat.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natalie wasn't in the car until the door opened. Natasha was, however, gingerly turning this situation over in her head. "This..." she notes, her voice softer and slightly more muted than Leonard would be used to, "... could be an interesting social experiment. A public tarring and feathering of someone keeping the little guy down tends to go over well. But it never seems to come from the boss." She rests her chin on the heel of her hand. "Not that I'm... partial to the result, or anything."
    Shield stays out of politics, after all.
    "... Do you think if I scream in fear, I'd get away with kicking him in the balls? Don't answer that."
    It's Natalie who steps out of the car with a gracious "Thank yooouu~" to Tony, and smiles kindly to the man she'd be interested to see fed to a box of scorpions - speaking of high functioning socipaths. Maybe. - looking to the flagged-down waiter and pressing her hands together in a surprisingly cute 'Pleeease?' kind of gesture.
    "Hi. Hello." She looks back and forth between two random attendees as she pulls out a chair and takes a seat next to Tony, folding her hands on the table. When she's introduced she innocently gives a little wave and a smile, saying "Hiiiii~ Nice to meet you all." In an unthreatening, vaguely shallow manner.

Peter Parker has posed:
There are a few relieved glances. He seems to be down with the party, and if Stark parties, a hard party may indeed be on the horizon.

But there are also those who have been doing this for a very long time, and their Corporate Senses are tingling. They smile politely, but still look ready to leave at a moment's notice. They see someone approaching the camp, but still are ready to de-camp if something goes deeply south. Everyone says hello to Natasha, giving her supportive smiles.

Blevins seems to be ignoring the animal cunning that has gotten him to where he is, the captain of the guard to Tony's castle. He may have forgotten those same words voiced by Henry Hill: "There weren't any arguments or curses like in the movies. See, your murders come with smiles, they come as your friends, the people who've cared for you all of your life."

Tony Stark has posed:
"You could all take a page out of this guy's book," Tony continues, gesturing to Blevins and gazing around at the other HR representatives, "Tireless worker. Fearless. Totally willing to do everything he can for the good of ... well, the good of someone, am I right? But he's a shining example to you guys. Hell, he even works the graveyard shift - how many of you are still in the office after five, huh?"

He hangs more than a little icy venom on the word 'graveyard', tipping his glasses down his nose to stare at Blevins over the top of them. His blue eyes seem a little colder than usual, his tone a little less congenial.

"I had an interesting talk with Len in legal today, Phil," Tony continues, rising out of the seat and strolling around the outside of the table and towards Blevins. He pauses occasionally to stand behind the chair of the other executives, clasping the backs of them while he talks.

"I won't bore you with the details. Busy guy like you. But I found out about a little project of yours putting some applicants in the hole and blacklisting them across the industry. What's up with that, Phil?"

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natalie feigns a quizzical look and asks, "Is that normal, honey?"

Peter Parker has posed:
Blevins was still smiling when the first mention of 'graveyard' hit him. He didn't react. It was a regular word, but what was Stark talking about? He worked banker's hours, he got home with plenty of time to shtup the nanny...

Then "Len" and "Legal" were mentioned. "Legal" was bad enough. CEOs don't even know "Legal" exists unless there's trouble. And "Len?" He knew of only one Len, and that was Lennie the Shark. And he was called the Shark for damn good reason...

And then Stark slides the blade home.
To his credit, his only reaction was puzzlement. High-functioning, Sibelius had said.

"Uhm...what? Some kind of funny joke, Mr. Stark?"

He saw the looks in some of the faces of the others who'd helped him bury the "bodies" and it was an inhuman effort not to glare at them, promising to turn them into ground round if they said one single...solitary...WORD.

"I dunno who's been talking out of turn, but you and I both know some people just don't make the cut for Stark Industries, sir."

Tony Stark has posed:
"I don't think it is, sugar bean," Tony calls back in response to Natalie's question ,"Or at least, Len certainly doesn't think it is."

"So," Tony begins, moving once more around the table. Ever see Al Capone in the Untouchables right before he beans the guy with the baseball bat? It's like that, "Fortunately it isn't a 'he said she said' type of scenario, Phil. I've seen the files. Graveyards kind of a shitty password, if I'm being honest. You're meant to use letters and numbers. I bet the code to your house's alarm system's your birthday, isn't it?"

Finally he comes to pause behind Blevins' chair, resting both hands on the back of it and leaning forward to peer out at the small sea of HR faces. If it were possible to hear someone sweat, he's sure he would.

"Tell me something, Phil," he whispers now, close to the man's ear, "Who's names on the building?"

Peter Parker has posed:
Blevins was still smiling, but the smile was shaky. The cracks were beginning to show.

Who had he determined would not make the cut? And Why? Race, Religion, Sex, any one of a dozen protected groups. He had weeded out the unworthy, corporately murdered them, and had buried them in the SI database. Only they weren't rising like zombies from a TV show. They were all ticking time bombs with shoddy timers.

One lawsuit would have set them all off and savaged the company.

"...Yours, Mr. Stark," Blevins said quietly, almost calmly. This wasn't HIS fault. He had been simply...maintaining a high standard, that's all. Why should he be punished for that?

Tony Stark has posed:
"It's my name," Tony agrees, voice almost gentle now - the kind of low timbre that necessitates leaning in so everyone can pick up what he's saying, "My name. My company. My money."

There's a pause and he glances up and across the table towards Nat, catching her eyes. Whatever he's thinking, it isn't written on his face. It's as though he's looking to her, trying to read something in her face or the way she's holding herself. Soon he moves on, turning his attention back to Blevins.

"These people deserve their shot. They deserve to make a name for themselves. You don't get to bury them based on your opinion or some perceived slight. I'm digging up the graveyard. All of these people are going to get their shot."

He leans in now, and whispers words only meant for Blevins.

"Whatever you're doing to my company," he continues, "Whatever bar you've set? You've left me open. You've left the company open. I know about weaknesses in the armor, and you've made the sort that they can jam a knife right through and pierce the heart."

He stands up straight, reaches for one of the bottles of wine as it arrives and pops the cork noisily enough that it is heard throughout the whole restaurant. He pours a serving into the empty glass in front of Blevins and sets it back down on the table. When he speaks again, he's once again audible to the entire table.

"Congratulations, Phil. You're fucking fired."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha meets Tony's gaze, and behind that shallow soft-hearted 'I'm just happy to be here!' facade, one can almost perceive... admiration? And the sort of cold pure-hearted joy of schadenfreud, watching Blevin's cruel little game blow up in his face.
    Technically this is just corporate business and she should have no opinion other than perhaps vague disgust for the whole concept, but... maybe she's gotten a little bias towards Tony.
    "Ohhhhhhhhhh..." Natalie hums sympathetically. "I'm so sorry. But at least the meal's free?"

Peter Parker has posed:
Blevins doesn't react outwardly to this. His smile dips only slightly. "I'm...sorry you feel that way, Mr. Stark," he said calmly. "What I did...I did for the good of the company. They were all losers...lower-class trash. They...had no place..."

Under the table, he had taken out the phone and was accessing the SI app, going quickly to the 401(k). He tapped a few buttons, waiting for the stock options to be deposited to the account. He could just take the money. He had over eight million, not including the stock options. He was going to cancel them out, pull off twelve million easy, and leave with what Stark rightfully owed him for his loyal service.

Except he heard a SQUAWK sound instead of a BEEP sound. Phil looked down to see a message.


Phil said aloud, "No..."

Tony Stark has posed:
"This isn't just a case of messing with the company," Tony continues, picking up the wine glass he'd poured for Blevins and taking it for himself as he moves around the table, "That's bad enough. This is discrimination. That's a crime, Phil. I would've thought being in HR you would've known that."

He takes a sip of the glass, glancing over the tops of the heads at the table towards Nat to give her a wink. Then he pushes the glasses back up his nose to conceal his eyes once again, waving the wine glass around theatrically as he speaks.

"You're fired. We're going to pursue damages for any business we've lost by not having Peter Parker or any of his fellow graveyard zombies on the payroll, and believe me we will go through it with a fine-toothed comb."

He moves towards Nat, as though going to leave, when another thought strikes him and he turns back around.

"Oh, and you thought you knew about blacklisting someone so they never work in the industry again? Phil, you ain't seen nothin' yet."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natalie winces and sucks in a short breath through her teeth in sympathy, shaking her head. "That doesn't sound good. Oh." Natalie stands slowly, as if to join Tony to leave. "Maybe I- maybe we don't need those sandwiches. You can have those sandwiches. Can-" Natalie turns her head to the passing waiter and points them at Blevin, "Can he have those sandwiches? Thank you."

Peter Parker has posed:
The name seems to startle everyone out of their reverie. And Tony and Nat knew, in that moment, that Phil had told them how NICE it would be to bury him far away from any company. They begin to fidget, accomplices that had been found out, and then the apologies start. Donny gets up and says, "Well, I need to get going, I have to head back to work..."

Phil looked at Tony, and at last Tony could see him for what he was.

He looked like a petulant child.

"You're going to regret giving him so much as the time of DAY, Stark! He's a LOSER, a SLACKER, without ANY concept of responsibility. Just because he's got some big number, that doesn't mean he's better than m-...than anyone here! You hire him, you'll see what I mean. He's NOTHING. He's NOBODY!"

Tony Stark has posed:
The waiters bring the sandwiches, laying them out awkwardly on the table. Two sandwiches between all the people gathered there. For what it's worth, one of the waiters puts one in front of Phil with a sort of apologetic look.

Tony himself stands there quietly, one hand in his pocket and the other nursing the mostly-empty wine glass as he listens to Blevins speak. When he's finally done, the corners of Tony's mouth creep up into a patient little smile and he speaks.

"At least he's got a job, Phil."

That said, he turns to give Nat a 'you good?' raise of the eyebrows and walk out of the restaurant.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natalie returns that look with a chipper little "Mm-hm!" and looks to the table, and follows Tony, saying, "Nice meeting you all!"

Peter Parker has posed:
By the time Tony and Natalie have left, the table is empty except for Blevins, who is staring at the plate in front of him. The waiter arrives, then says, "Do you have another form of payment? This company card came back declined."

Phil Blevins, former HR Administrator, stares dully at the plate in front of him.