Tony stepped into the cold Russian air, sighing and watching his breath turn into white smoke.
“Whose idea was this?” he mumbled to himself as he walked to the car.
It was waiting to take him to the headquarters of the company Stark Industries was working to take over, Eagle Dynamics, a Russian company leading the market in flight simulations.
The president of said company had, according to Pepper, thrown a fit when they found out Tony wasn’t coming, so Tony had taken a flight to Russia two days before negotiations were expected to conclude. Hw would spend the first day sleeping off the jet lag caused by the nearly twelve hour flight from New York to St Petersburg, and the second walking around trying to find Nat a book.
It was a rare book of Russian poetry she’d been talking about for a few months.
Today he was meeting with the president of Eagle Dynamics, along with a few top officials from either side to witness the signing of the last few contracts.
As the car pulled up to the building, he let the driver come around to open his door, then walked into the building, immediately being greeted by a rather attractive man with long brown hair gelled back into a professional bun.
“Hello Mr. Stark, my name is James and I’ll be your translator and guide. If you need anything please don’t hesitate to let me know, as I’m like your assistant for the day. Now, if you’ll follow me, I’ll escort you to the conference room we’ll be using today.”
The man, James, smiled and waited for Tony’s gesture before turning and walking to the room, slow enough for Tony to easily follow. They reached the room and James shifted position to behind Tony’s shoulder, preparing to translate whatever would be said.
“Добро пожаловать господин Старк,” the first man to step forward, the president of the company, greeted. Before James could even open his mouth, though, Tony was responding in flawless Russian,“Спасибо что разрешил мне быть вашим гостем.”
Only professionalism kept James’ jaw from dropping.
He stood there uselessly for hours as Tony conversed in Russian.
Finally, all the papers were signed and all James had to do was escort Mr. Stark out. He suppressed the urge to smack the man for not mentioning the fact that a translator was unnecessary, and making James look completely useless.
Then, he could go home and eat ice cream, rant to his dog for a bit, then watch kids movies like he always did after a stressful day.
Tonight, it seemed kind of like a Heffalump Movie kind of night, because the ending always made him cry in a good way.
Back to the point.
Mr. Stark stood and stretched, drawing his attention once again to his back flexing under the tight white dress shirt with sleeves rolled up thick forearms, suit jacket and cuff lings long forgotten on the table in the hours of final revisions and signing. The moment was broken as he turned around, jumping a bit as he noticed James still standing there.
“Have you been there this whole time?” He sounded surprised that James hadn’t sat down or even made a noise louder than breathing during the whole meeting.
“Yes, Mr. Stark. As I said, I am your assistant today, and therefore stay with you unless you need me to retrieve something for you.”
James’ professional attitude never dropped, even as he internally rolled his eyes at the way the businessman seemed shocked at his work ethic. For a normal client he might have sat down at the long conference table (there was plenty of room with only two representatives from each side to witness the signing) or left the room until called back, but he was on his best behavior for the VIP becoming his new employer and therefore remained at his side and stayed silent until addressed.
“Wow, that’s some commitment, kid. I completely forgot you were there.”
Mr. Stark put his jacket on over his rolled-up sleeves and dropped the cuff links in his pocket.
“Well, I need food before we start with the official announcement stuff, but I might need some help finding my way out, if you don’t mind?” The man remained completely relaxed until he admitted he might be lost, rubbing the back of his neck a bit.
“Of course, sir, allow me to get the door for you.” James immediately walked over and pulled the big wooden door open, letting the other man walk through before walking out himself and leading the way to the front of the building.
“Here you are, Mr. Stark, your car should be arriving shortly, have a nice lunch and I’ll be waiting here for you upon your return.”
James turned to walk away, planning on grabbing a quick snack from the vending machine before his stomach started growling too loudly and interrupted the afternoon meetings. That would be a definite turn-off for his new boss, a strike through his professionalism he had worked so hard to maintain in the morning meetings.
“Hey, wait,” Mr. Stark called out. James sighed (internally, of course, but turned with his beat, brightest smile on his face.
“Was there something else I can get you, sir?” The guys face looked a bit flushed now that he was looking straight at him instead of having his face bowed, just a bit, to stay as respectful as possible. “Would you like some water? You look a bit flushed,”
“Oh, no, thank you, I was just wondering if you- if you maybe wanted to have lunch with me?”
The sentence was delivered with the utmost confidence, minus him repeating the two words in the middle of the sentence, but then almost immediately Mr. Stark started to fidget uncomfortably, as if he were nervous.
“You know, because you’re the first person I’ve really met here, and I want to get a feel for the company, from a worker’s perspective, because-,” here, his rambling stopped for a second, as though he started talking for the second time without thinking this far ahead, “-reasons,” looking embarrassed, flushing just a bit at the lame ending.
Despite it being a little bit endearing, and very cute (not that James would admit that), his annoyance levels, elevated since he learned this guy apparently spoke the damn language he was brought in to translate, spiked.
He just wanted this guy to go to lunch so he could get off his feet for a bit, go get some bad coffee and a chalky protein bar from the break room vending machine, before the driver called and James was back up, greeting the man again with a broad but slightly bland smile, perfectly professional but also saying ‘I’m interested in what you’re saying’ without him ever opening his mouth.
Despite knowing what he was feeling was caused by hunger and exhaustion, along with being ignored and even forgotten about for hours, he followed his first instinct, which was to reply in the first language he learned to curse in, barely even having the presence of mind to hope the guy didn’t know how to speak the language, he spit the words “Maldito pendejo, concha de mierda.” at the man.
As quickly as it had come, though, his anger faded, and he was left staring at Mr. Stark, whose mouth had dropped open as soon as the words left his lips, and shit, maybe he did know the language, they taught Spanish in American schools, his brain chose now to supply him with that info, oh, James was so fired, now he’s going to be blacklisted, and this job was really all he had going for h-
His internal rambling (panicking) was cut off by a loud laugh.
Blinking, he realized it was coming from the guy he had just called a maldito pendjo and a concha de mierda, which made no sense. He should be fuming, he should be shouting for James to pack his shit and get out, not laughing like being cussed out was the funniest thing to ever happen to him. His confusion was noted though, and the businessman wiped tears of mirth from his eyes, looking at James and chuckling again before speaking.
“That was the best part of this day, getting you to drop the ‘Mr. Stark’ bullshit,” he announced, before slumping just a bit.
“I guess that’s a no to the date, then?” he half-asked, half-stated, but James was lost now.
“Wait, what date? You were asking me out to lunch on a… date?”
“Well, yeah. I thought that was obvious.” Mr. Stark now looked even more confused.
“Then you cursed me out, in a very creative way, I might add, and now you’re saying you didn’t even know I was asking you out?”
He got this adorable little crinkle in between his eyebrows when he frowned, James noticed. “Wait, then why’d you cuss me out?”
“Um, to be perfectly honest,” James rubbed the back of his neck, “I was just a bit pissed at how you ignored me all morning, didn’t even tell me you knew Russian, so I looked like an idiot all morning, and then asked if I would come tell you about the company,” he admitted, “and I’m kind of exhausted, I get pissy when I’m tired.”
He chuckled, embarrassed, but the other man seemed to brush it off.
“So, is that a yes to lunch?” he looked up, so hopeful, and something inside melted.
“Sure.” James smiled, and followed the other man out of the building to the car, where he opened his door for him, following him with the first real smile of the day.