Tony pulls a face at the opening line, tempted to turn around and lock himself back into the workshop for another few hours, because ugh, so much energy at— 3pm? The engineer blinks at the time, then at his assistant’s assistant (who he apparently adopted at one point, because it does feel like Seraphina is his Personal Assistant Who Gets Burdened With The Annoying Task Of Bothering Tony About Business— well, that title is a little long, but you get the point) who is still going a mile a minute.
“So this is how it feels to be verbally steamrolled, huh?” Tony smirks, apparently finding those kind of exchanged roles more amusing than anything else. “Three days? I should probably eat something first. Tell Armani I’ll think about it and then ask Pepper what she thinks about another model thingy, the guys at R&D are idiots as always, tell them that they all have their own freakin’ degrees and yes it is useful, they don’t get anything done without my input, do they? The processor chip, forgot about that, will take about half an hour starting from the next time I enter the lab— what day is it? I mean how much time to I have left before it’s Thursday and I’ll definitely be murdered by stiletto heels?”
Here he walks past Seraphina, thinking that the kitchen should be in that direction of the hallway. “What did I leave out, Fifi? Oh yeah, the politicians, ugh, I don’t have time for politicians, JARVIS can delete all emails except those he considers vitally important, which should be none, so probably delete all, and what am I supposed to be doing exactly looking at a Contractor’s list? Pepper can deal with that one.”
Sephy smirked back at him briefly before she had to abandon any attempts of doing anything but attempting to get everything down. A part of her wondered whether he was talking so fast just to try and prove he could talk faster than her. It was times like this she thought that maybe it would be a good idea to learn shorthand.
“Food first sounds reasonable,” she agreed, checking her scrawled list as he walked past her and hoping she could read her handwriting later. Then she twirled on one leg and caught up with him.
“It’s Monday,” she informed him, “You missed journalists, and the quote for Marketing; and R&D are really nagging me, so, yes okay, fine, they’re idiots, but you’re the genius and pioneer in arc reactor technology, so will you please just run the tests and send them what they want? Might be better to get round to dealing with the politicians sooner rather than later too - yes I know, they’re all annoying pricks, but still. It does need doing.”
She stopped then, one eyebrow raised as Tony went the wrong direction as the hallway split.
“Uh, kitchen’s that way,” she said, pointing.
“Okay then, Stark,” Seraphina announced with aplomb, “Seeing as you have refused to answer me or do anything other than play about with your armour for three days I have amassed quite a list of things I need to bug you about, and I am going to assault you with it now.”
She grinned at the look on his face but started talking before he could object, flicking through a very full clipboard as she rambled at a speed which could rival Stark at his best. This was the first time in the aforementioned three days that her boss had looked as though he was aware of the existence of the rest of the world, and she wasn’t going to waste it.
“R&D wants to know when you’re going to send them the readouts that you promised them last week of your latest test on the viability of increasing arc reactor output longevity by 20%; Manufacturing is asking when they can get their hands on the prototype of the new processor chip for the next gen of tablets so they can cost out the production of it; there’s also a list of contractors for the construction of the new factory to keep up with demand which you’re supposed to have a look at. I have about a bazillion marketing emails that JARVIS has forwarded to me, are you really interested in any of them, or can I just delete them all? Armani want to know if you’ll model their newest range of suits, either for an ad campaign or an article, and if not, whether you want to buy any of them - they’ve sent a brochure. I have about three more requests from politicians for photo ops with Iron Man, and six more complains about, well they’re long and varied, about you in general; should I add them to the pile? - which of course you will have to get around to dealing with at some point, I know making them wait and fume is fun, but really, you can only hold them off for so long before they decide to set up another tribunal. Pepper has told me to warn you that she will be delivering an ultimatum to ensure that you turn up to the meeting on Thursday - she’ll be doing the actual threatening of course, this is just the threat of the threat. Also Marketing wants a quote from you describing the newest StarkPhone for their ad campaigns - there anything you particularly want me to include or shall I just make the whole thing up again?”
She paused for breath and rummaged through the various papers attached to her clipboard again to check that she hadn’t missed anything.
“Oh yeah, and I’ve received the usual amount of requests for interviews with you, shall I send of the usual negative, or might you actually want to do one? I’m fairly sure at least two of the journalists are hoping to get in your pants if that makes any difference.”
“Except few people know I have powers and even fewer people know that you have powers. If people wanted to take you, they probably would.” There was safety to be gained by having a reputation for being dangerous, after all. People tended to leave you— and the people you cared about— alone. But then, if one was dangerous, then one nearly always had dangerous enemies, which were never fun.
Was it… okay to tell Seraphina that by being his friend she’d automatically put herself in danger? To be honest, most people he loved were probably in danger, but the difference was that everyone else could take care of themselves, or were protected by people more powerful that Ian. On the other hand, he was fairly he and Tony Stark were the only ones Seraphina had.
“Just be careful, yeah? I know you don’t like bothering me or anything, but if you have to walk home at night, or whatever, call me up, I’m always up for escorting you wherever.”
“Correction, you know about my powers. Well, and my old therapist and some kid from years back. But the point is, if so few people know we’re actually important, why would anyone kidnap me anyway? I’m just some mad and rather annoying titch with a past of burning stuff down. Not exactly a prime kidnap target I wouldn’t’ve thought.”
Sephy gave him another nudge with her arm.
“Stop worrying,” she urged, “Seriously, I’ll be fine. And I’m not dragging you out every time Stark has me working late - or early - that happens far too often and you’re insanely busy as it is. Now eat an egg tart and stop worrying about me.”
“If anyone violently abducts you, I may resort to breaking things,” he told her solemnly, and though his tone was light, Ian looked serious. “Like your abductors.”
He shrugged, grinning. “I have no idea why anyone would want to kidnap the pyromaniac, superpowered best friend of an interim Chinese demigod, do you?”
“You really are my night in shining armour aren’t you?” Sephy joked.
She internally baulked at his next sentence though.Woah, wait, did he say best friend? I’m his best friend now? Okay, wow. That’s… Odd. Scary. This was her after all. She didn’t even have friends full stop. And now there was Ian. What the hell was she supposed to do with him?
Surprisingly she managed to keep the majority of this off her face however, instead raising one eyebrow and replying in her usual lighthearted, teasing manner.
“I don’t know. It seems like a fairly stupid thing to do to me. I wouldn’t bother.”
“You can do the whole…” He snapped his fingers, then wiggled them. “…Flame thing. If you don’t want to hurt them, you can use it to scare them with.”
Then he paused, thinking over his idea. “…Though that would probably kill the whole idea of keeping your powers secret.” That wasn’t too good.
“…Or if you get kidnapped you can just text me…?”
“Yeah, ‘cause kidnappers usually check if you want to let anyone know where you’re going before they violently abduct you,” Sephy teased with a grin. “Seriously though, I don’t think you need to worry that much. What would be the point in kidnapping me?”
“Well, don’t get kidnapped anyway,” he told her mock-sternly, though he meant every word. Seraphina was a kind girl, and being friends with him was potentially dangerous. She was careful with her powers, but in the wrong hands, she could become a weapon. Or she could be taken and used as leverage against him. Of course she had a way to defend herself, but… ahh, Ian didn’t want that to happen to her.
“I have no idea.” Ian closed his eyes, sighing. “But the disclaimer’s there, just in case.”
“I’ll do my best,” Seph promised. “Still not sure that if someone really wanted to kidnap me that I’d actually be able to do much to stop them, but I’ll try, okay?”
She gave Ian a smile. Whilst it was certainly strange having him so obviously care about her, it was nice too.
“You can do the same for me, alright?” she added. It was probably more likely that someone might want to kidnap Ian, due to his superhero-y doings, and his conflict with the Chinese Mafia; but he was far more likely to be able to fight any potential kidnappers off. All in all, asking him to promise not to get kidnapped seemed to make more sense than asking her to, at least to her.
He shrugged. “Don’t you think the feeling’s mutual? I’m pretty sure you were the first one I told, or something. Maybe Mr. Stark was first, I don’t remember.”
Ian stretched, yawning. “But, like, no worries, you’re not going to tell or anything and the worst thing I have to fear is you getting kidnapped— don’t do that, by the way, please, seriously— so I think I’m good there.”
He smiled brightly at her. “And I won’t tell anyone about you, either. Unless it’s important. Like, save-your-life important.”
“Aww, I feel special now,” she teased with a grin. The idea seemed strange to her though. Once again this was ramming home the idea that they were definitely, properly, more than just casual acquaintances.
“What, don’t get kidnapped?” she asked, laughing slightly, “Damnit, I’ve always wanted to be kidnapped - the assault the fear, the possible torture.”
She raised her eyebrow at him and smirked.
“I’m not sure that’s something people generally get much of a say in, you know. But, sure, I’ll try my best not to get kidnapped.”
She chuckled again, then looked quizzical.
“In what sort of a situation would telling someone I can burst into flames save my life?” she asked curiously.
“I don’t think he’d be very fussed about it,” he answered thoughtfully. After all, Tony had taken Ian’s powers very much in stride, gods and all, and even let Ian crash at his place every so often if he needed to.
He grinned at her. “So, yeah, less burning Stark Tower?”
“I’ll try not to,” Seph agreed with a smile, “Unless he bets that I can’t.”
“And maybe he wouldn’t be that fussed,” she admitted, letting her head flop back against the bed, “But I’d still rather keep it a secret. I’ve spent fourteen years trying to hide it. The thought of someone else knowing seems … wrong.”
She sighed and turned her head to face him.
“I still can’t quite believe I told you, you know. I think it was just ‘cause your powers looked so similar, and you’d trusted me. I guess the thought of finding someone that might understand was just too exciting.”
“Yes, it is,” he agreed, fixing her with a stern stare. “Please don’t burn down Stark Tower. It has an awesome view, and it’s convenient to land on, on that bit that juts out like a llama nose.
Sephy snorted with laughter at his description.
“Don’t worry, JARVIS’ fire protocols are actually very good,” she reassured him, “I still wonder if I might be able to get around them if I really wanted to, but that would take a lot of effort, and that would mean Stark would discover my secret, so I don’t want to do that.”
She paused for a moment and wondered if that was really the best reason to be giving.
“Plus, you’re right, it does have an awesome view,” she added.
“But what a pretty arsonist,” he commented, grinning brightly at her. “At any rate, Mr. Stark doesn’t seem to mind yet, so why worry??
Sephy nudged him with her arm at that comment and rolled her eyes slightly. At least she knew Ian wasn’t trying to chat her up.
“Yeah well, it’s possible Stark’s even more of a public menace than I am. He’s just a rich one so he can get away with it. I think he finds it more amusing than alarming. He’s confident that JARVIS’ fire protocols are too good for me to burn down the building.”
She chuckled slightly.
“Of course he’s so cocky and arrogant about it that I immediately want to try and prove him wrong. Which is very probably a very bad idea.”