1238/How Not To Diplomat

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How Not To Diplomat
Date of Scene: 19 April 2020
Location: Stark Tower: Penthouse
Synopsis: Nat and Tony discuss the aftermath of the Stark Expo party.
Cast of Characters: Tony Stark, Natasha Romanoff

Tony Stark has posed:
The opening of Stark Expo had, for the most part, gone without a hitch. Tony had got to show off some cutting edge technology, rubbed some elbows, and generally made sure not to commit too many social missteps (one or two doesn't count as too many, right?) But the event was over for now, and even billionaire genius philanthropists need to eat and sleep. The car had carried Mr. and Mrs. Stark back to the tower, and the private elevator has sped them from the parking garage to the penthouse in record time.

Tony's bowtie is undone but still hanging loose about his neck, and the jacket has been discarded for only the white tuxedo shirt, pants, and cummerbund beneath. He moves immediately towards the bar, breathing a noisy sigh of relief as he sees the bottles arrayed along its rear shelves.

"At last."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha was on Tony's arm until the moment they entered the penthouse, letting her arms slump slightly as she steps into the luxurious room, still wearing high heeled shoes, a pretty black dress and a black choker around her neck with a blittle blue stone dangling from the center. "At. Last." She echoes softly, giving a little smile.
    She tilts her head slightly as he moves to the bar, before she moves close and sort of sneaks past him with raised eyebrows, lowering when she's in the clear. She peruses the bottles and picks one out as she comments. "I thought you were going to go stage diving, for a minute." opening the bottle and gently sniffing at its contents. "Would have been a historical first. Well. A different historical first."

Tony Stark has posed:
"I thought about it," Tony admits, fetching out the glasses from beneath the counter and letting Nat handle the drink itself, "But then, we spent eighteen months shrinking down the repulsor tech for those shoes. I think Nakamura would've had kittens if I chose not to show them off and act like a rock star instead."

He goes for the ice bucket now, dropping a couple perfect spheres of ice into the glasses with a tinkling sound before returning the chrome container to the freezer. As he does, he glances up towards Nat and attempts his most nonchalant voice.

"Did you have a good time?"

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    "That's fair." Natasha replies softly, and gingerly pours a pair of... modestly sized drinks to start with. Tony's question draws a soft grin that morphs into a slightly tight smile as she considers this and says, "I... did." She says with some hesitation. "Always fun to watch you work. Interesting to see so much tech in one place before anyone can afford to use it. Riri seemed to be losing her mind..." ahe tilts her head and squints a little, "... Had... one or two minor heart attacks since we can't seem to stay away from people I've met at work."

Tony Stark has posed:
"That's because you meet so many people at work."

Tony cranes his neck to peer over Nat's shoulder as she pours the drinks, reaching in to pick up his own glass once it's full and lifting it for a sip. He lets out the happy sigh of a functioning alcoholic and steps out from behind the bar, wandering over towards the large windows that look out over the balcony and the cityscape beyond.

"I was actually planning on making a bit more of a speech," he explains, stirring the glass by rolling it in the palm of his hand, "But then Karen Starr and her flying parade float kind of overtook the whole thing. Good for her, I guess."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Sooner or later Natasha's gonna notice just how MUCH Tony drinks, and on that day she'll start getting pretty concerned; but between how well Tony carries himself, and the fact that life has been rife with... special occasions since she started coming over here, it seems to have escaped her notice.
    In the meantime, Natasha sips her drink and gives a muffled "Mmph." of recognition while her lips are pressed to the glass. "Yeah that... wasn't... normal. I'd complain, but... between the optics, how much she seemed to *love* you, and the fact that she could probably palm your head, it might be better to let it go."

Tony Stark has posed:
"I've got her vote at the very least," Tony explains, taking another sip and glancing back over his shoulder towards Nat, "Maybe I can get her to do a little subtle campaigning on my behalf. Things could take a good turn if she can convince some of the other 'technocrats' to throw in with me instead of Luthor. You saw what Facebook did for the other guy."

Another sip of his drink and he lets out a sigh, taking in the nighttime scenery of the city around them.

"I'm starting to get used to this, y'know. You. Me. Just ... talking. Spending time together. Is that a bad thing? Am I going to wake up in a bathtub full of ice with a kidney missing?"

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha smirks a little and agrees "Doesn't sound like a hard sell." As Tony speaks of them, she tilts her head a little and looks... almost guilty for a second, but she puts on a smile and steps a little closer - still enduring heels, because ballerina training has put her discomfort tolerance through the roof, on top of giving her an absurd amount of grace - "... Well. Just factually speaking... getting cuddly with a Russian spy is a silly thing to do." She says a bit breezily, "... But I'm out of the organ market. So. You'd have to mess up pretty bad at this point." She leans in and softly adds, "And I think you're doing well." before she kisses him on the cheek.

Tony Stark has posed:
"Yours is the opinion that matters."

Tony shifts slightly to the side as she kisses him on the cheek, leaning into it and taking another sip of his drink. He reaches a hand behind him, pawing at her blindly for a moment in search of her free hand. Once he has it he lets out another contented sigh, nodding to his own reflection in the mirror as though he just came to a conclusion.

"I was thinking of taking Steve to see the car," he says out of nowhere, "The flying one that dad built. I think he'd get a kick out of it. Though I'm hoping you'll come, too, in case he wants to have another deep and meaningful discussion. You can Judo him."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha lets that hand grab around for a second before she feeds her hand into it and gives it a bit of a squeeze. It's... quite a change. For the first year or so she was in the Avengers, she scarcely seemed to talk to anyone but Clint, treating it more like a job than anything. Cordial, polite, but impersonal. Somewhere along the line she started treating them like comrades, then something... closer to friends than she would readily admit to, and now? Tony Stark's secret girlfriend. Who woulda thunk it.
    "Oh yeah?" She asks as Tony begins to speak, until the conclusion draws a rare unbidden laugh from Natasha; a proper 'sneak-up-on-you' laugh that gets muffled after three or four notes when she presses her lips tightly together and sniffs sharply. "I'll keep him in line." She says, her voice slightly deep with restrained amusement.
    A moment passes and she gives Tony's hand another squeeze, idly tugging on a little to let their hands swing a bit as she says, "... I think it was big of you." She says softly. "Everything with your father out there. Considering." Part of her hesitates to poke it, since it's a sore subject - the sore subject, partly, that sort of started all of this with them - but even Natasha Romanoff knows a little positive support can be important. Especially considering he also earned a major point of criticism out there.

Tony Stark has posed:
Tony can't help but grin a little at the unbidden laugh. He's learning to tell, in some ways, when a laugh is genuine and when Natasha is putting them on. The former are few and far between, but he's alway had an eye for spotting priceless things when they cross his path.

The mention of his father, however, renders him a little more solemn. He doesn't immediately close up, nor does he let go of her hand, but the grin disappears. He takes a long drink, finishing off the glass and just nursing the empty vessel against his stomach for a second.

"People would've expected it," he explains, though he doesn't even sound as though he's convinced himself of that, "The Expo is his thing. He did it for thirty-one years. Besides, for all the ... other things, he was a genius. I've got to give him that."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    If Natasha knew how much of that he'd sussed out, she might be a little nervous. The last thing she wants is Tony to think she fakes everything around him. In a weird way she... kinda does? But it's more complicated than that.
    Natasha reaches one arm back to set her glass on the bar, and uses the newly freed hand to idly rub Tony's shoulder as she gives a soft "Mmm." Of acknowledgement and says. "Well. If you liked it, it wouldn't be big of you." She says, as if that's a comfort. But then, Natasha's a seasoned pro at doing things she doesn't want to do. "Speaks of character." She says, a little more breezily, softly kissing the back of his neck, and adding, with a bit more levity, "... Aside from just. *Being* a character."

Tony Stark has posed:
"Having character kinda sounds like it sucks," Tony admits tentatively, "I've got by for a pretty long time just doing the things I wanted to do. Then here you come along telling me I ought to have character and integrity."

He takes her free hand, drawing it around in front of him and placing it against his stomach while resting his own hand over the top of it. He tilts his head back a little to kiss her cheek, then turns his attention back to the view. His mood seems to be improving now, and he's content to simply hold the empty glass rather than trying to refill it.

"I'll never stop being a character, though. If I end up winning this election, I think they'd impeach me if I got into office and stopped being the Tony Stark they know."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    There's a little smile in Natasha's voice as she says "Don't blame it all on me." and holds herself against Tony now that her arm's wrapped around his waist, beggining to sway back and forth a little. "You went and grew up all by yourself. That's how you got cute redheads knocking on your door."
    Well, the latest cute redhead.
    She smirks a little and adds, "Besides. We're at least five months away from me being known as the girl who put a leash on Tony Stark. Seven if the pictures don't get out." She gives Tony's butt of a bit of a bold squeeze, and distangles herself from him to walk around. "Freshen your drink?" She offers, before she starts refilling her glass, replying to Tony's final note with "No, you're right, there's definitely 'cult of personality' at work here.

Tony Stark has posed:
Tony's eyebrows raise as he feels her grab his butt, standing up a little straighter and giving her a dubious look over his shoulder. When Nat steps around in front of him, he gratefully hands the glass off to her before making his own way alongside her back to the bar. Once there, he sits down on the stool at the other side of it.

"So," he begins, drawing out the syllable for several seconds as he sits down, "Are you staying the night? I think you probably have to, just to be safe. You saw what happened at the thing. Green-haired monarchs charging up to me just to get my attention. I need my body guarded."

A pause.

"That one was cheesy even for me."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha smirks a little as she refills Tony's glass, noting. "I'll guard your body as much as you like." She says, as if reassuring Tony, with a gentle sway of her hips, and picks up Tony's glass. She's having fun. As odd as it feels, she's starting to get used to letting her proverbial hair down a bit. "And then... when you least expect it..." she leans in, handing Tony's glass back to him as she says, "... I will give you a *stern* lecture on diplomacy."

Tony Stark has posed:
Tony's eyes widen a little at the talk and he leans forward on his elbows, thoroughly caught up in the little performance-not-performance Natasha is putting on. He even tilts his head a little bit to one side to watch as she sways her hips from side to side, because how can he not? He reaches out to take the glass with a broad smile, though the smile fades a little into confusion when she mentions the lecture.

"Is that code for something? Did we discuss code words while I was asleep? You know if I'm mumbling I'm probably not awake ... "

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha was following up from the 'green haired monarchs' line, and Tony's confusion is enough to make her think she maybe needs to dial back her skill at misdirection. "It could be. But right now I'm mostly just worried you're going to get an earful from Pietro. And Wanda. And probably Clint just by proxy."

Tony Stark has posed:
"I couldn't care less what Pietro thinks," Tony says a little haughtily, resting his weight on one elbow and bringing up the glass for a healthy draught of spirits, "And I'm sure he'll feel the same way. Wanda, however, wasn't there. And if the Queen of Genosha wants to take an off-the-cuff comment as international policy then maybe I'm not the one who needs a lesson in diplomacy."

It's petulance, really. When confronted with mistakes he's made, his less-evolved instincts compel him to argue why exactly he wasn't in the wrong. Sure, he's growing. But there's still a long way to go.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha sighs. Just a little. Just a tiny bit, while taking a drink. And she's tempted to let it go, which would be MUCH easier, and would further delay throwing any potential wrenches into all of this. But at the end of the day, Natasha Romanoff is not a woman who'll let people carry on being stupid when they're not also trying to kill her, and she's not a woman who'll let a potential presidential candidate live under delusion if she can help it. And she's not a woman who'd settle for a man that just ignores his own faults. Which may not be entirely fair considering some of the deep dark wells she's keeping covered, but...
    "... Tony." She finally says, "... She's the leader of a country that just got wiped off the map... she approached what *may well be* the next leader of the most powerful country in the *world*... and he poked fun at her hair. That's... offputting. Every little thing matters when you're operating at that level."

Tony Stark has posed:
It's clear that Tony wants to say something else. Possibly something hurtful. At the very least something shallow and thoughtless. Not so much as Nat, but on the subject of his diplomatic misstep. But he keeps it bottled up, pushes it down, and lets it get carried away into whatever dark recesses make up the furthest reaches of his psyche.

"It was a mistake," he admits, and for the most part its sincere, "I didn't recognize her. I probably should have, given the - " he holds up a hand, pointing at his hair, " - but I can at least try to make it right. What do you know about her? Is she a drinks or a tea and doilies kind of queen?"

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha visibly looks like she wants to say more - not recognizing her is not where the problem started - but she hesitates a bit too long. Tony admitted to being wrong - even if it could have been just to cut off the subject - would pushing it further into actual lecture territory just be antagonizing him?
    Seriously, she's not sure. She's never been with someone she wasn't under orders to either keep happy or murder.
    She briefly looks conflicted, but soon decides to switch to a more patient expression, more of a put-on than usual since it's not exactly what she's feeling - and says, "I only met her the once. When she was meeting Doctor Doom." Speaking of worrying political situations. "... You should ask Wanda." She smiles a little. "*Just* Wanda."

Tony Stark has posed:
There's no denying that a little air has been let out of Tony Stark's balloon. He'd been in reasonably good spirits when they'd gotten back to the Tower, but he was already looking a little withdrawn. It wasn't unusual for him. She'd likely seen it several times over the course of the years, though admittedly less since they started seeing one another. He's drawn back into himself, his expression shows a bit less levity and a bit more carefully-constructed egotistical mask.

There are layers to him as well, though perhaps not as well-constructed and maintained as Natasha's own.

He nods his head slowly, lifting up the drink from the counter again to polish off the remnants of it in a singular gulp. He puts it back down again, letting out a sigh that turns into a mild cough as the liquor burns its way down his throat.

"I'll talk to her," he says a little blandly, staring down into the empty glass before he pushes it off to one side and stands up from the stool, "I wouldn't worry about it. I wasn't exactly planning on inviting the whole family over for dinner."

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    "No, I figured." Natasha responds softly with a little smile, trying in vain a bit retrieve a bit of the earlier atmosphere. "I don't think I could protect you from the Maximoff family." She forgets sometimes how delicate things can be with Tony, but... as much as she hates to have ruined the night, she's not sure she could have shrugged off letting that go unchallenged. It would make her feel like a pushover for one. And for another - in her admittedly damaged and shaky perception - it would make her a bad partner.
    Unfortunately sticking to her guns means dealing with this atmosphere, and she suspects there will be no bodyguarding tonight. Still, however things go, she doesn't want to end things as the bad guy. She's still Team Tony here, as long as this lasts, and she leans forward a bit, propping her head up with an elbow on the bar, a slightly more genuine look up sympathy on her face as she asks, softly, "Can I cheer you up?" Less asking permission, and more asking if there's a viable method.

Tony Stark has posed:
"I'm being an idiot," Tony says quietly, shaking his head quietly and saying words that he may well never have uttered to another living soul before in his life, "Don't - you're right, okay? I'll work it out." A pause. "We'll work it out."

It seems like he's trying to maintain that dour expression, but the way she leans her head on her elbow and looks at him. The way she asks that question. It cuts through whatever sort of wall he was trying to put up like it were paper, and the corner of his mouth twitches into the faint ghost of a smile.

"Want to go watch TV in bed?"

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    "You're learning how to do an impossible job." She gently corrects him with an oddly proud smile and an idle tap on the side of her jaw while she props her head up, smiling warmly as he finishes. "... Yeah. We will."
    Natasha gives a small muted "Hm!" of a laugh at Tony's question and nods, straightening up and letting her hand drop as she says, "Yeah. That sounds nice."

Tony Stark has posed:
"I'm going to pick you up again," Tony tells her plainly, getting up from the stool and moving a few steps towards the edge of the bar so he can get around behind it. Despite the two drinks in rapid succession plus everything he'd had before the show, he doesn't seem to be having any issues keeping his footing. He steps around behind the bar, chin raised and looking askance at the redhead.

"I'm going to pick you up and carry you around, because unlike the Mansion there's no giant Asgardian to interrupt us by yelling about Twister."

That said, he steps in to do just what he says. Careful of the bottles and shelves, of course.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    "Oh?" Natasha replies, shoulders shaking with a bit of a laugh, expression slightly incredulous. As Tony approaches, she softly says, "I should stop you. I should not allow this nonsense to go on. I should... IIIIIII should-" she sighs, "Damn your masculine whiles." she says, unable to suppress a bit of a grin.
    "Gy*eek*!" She yelps a little as she's lifted up, feeling that odd little rush and, *again* getting a bit giggly and having to fight it off as she's lifted into the air. "Ah ha. I was sure you'd go for the cave man carry, but you've outwitted me again." She says as blandly as you can while trying not to laugh. She is not prepared to admit that the princess-carry and the caveman-carry both have their appeal. "Do as you will with me."

Tony Stark has posed:
Tony carefully angles the way out from behind the bar, making sure not to bump into anything or let Nat bump into anything either. For all the fooling around, he's still got a good eye and a few moments later they are extricated from behind the bar. He takes a few steps onto the carpet, kicking off the repulsor shoes he's still wearing and letting them clatter against the base of the sofa as though they weren't worth millions of dollars a piece.

"What I will, huh?" he asks, looking down at her, "I'll tell you what I will. I will that we go to bed, put on a movie, and then sleep in until ten because even we should get a lazy Sunday occasionally. Then I will that I order us up a late fast food breakfast and we eat it on our couch. Sound good?"

Our couch. He glosses over it so quickly he may not even be aware he said it. Even as he waits for a reply, he makes his way towards the bedroom.

Natasha Romanoff has posed:
    Natasha does raise a bemused eye brow at the scattering shoes - hey, it's not HER money! - and smirks at Tony, shaking her head faintly. "Oh, talking dirty to me." She teases, idly kicking her legs a bit, but when he finishes, she seems to ponder it with an exaggerated look upwards, before nodding firmly. "... That sounds delightful."
    Our couch. That's really nice.
    So is sleeping in! It seriously never happens.