[It’s his turn to feel irritation claw within his veins, scratch at his bones like abrasive chalk when the cannons start to wheel about and lock onto Extremis. He can feel his entire persona shifting, the unseen walls building around him; moving away from ‘Harry’ to ‘Mr. Osborn’ in a seamless locking of his jaw, the setting his voice and fixing his expression without any hesitation. This time when he speaks, it is clear and concise.]

      Considering I’ve laid out a very clear set of lines Tony Stark isn’t permitted to cross as long as my assets are involved in the project, no. There’s an important, high moral standard that has been maintained in this process from the moment we took control of it. And I’m pretty insulted you think that’s been dropped along the way somewhere.

           [He has done his best to draw the lines in the sand. When he approached Stark about what had gone on both times he’d been caught unaware, he’d kept to his fundamental principles. There were things that he’d been unsure about because they’d surprised him. But there was nothing in this project as of right now that compromised either the fundamental moral foundation of it or his company’s established safety standards.]

                       [And that comment about his limited involvement gets his back raised like no other.]  

                 I’m a pretty busy guy. Sue me if I didn’t hear a single conversation that probably happened somewhere sometime 24 hours before the biggest joint-breakthrough event we’ve held for this project. Right now, I’m pretty focused on keeping what we have safe from theft or third-party interest.

                              Because as of now, there is nothing in this project that compromises the standards we set out for ourselves at the outset. And that’s the end of it.

[ Oh.

                            There it is. 

          Maria jolts, a part of her exterior shifting suddenly like rocks just starting to slide but getting hung up on a stray root in the mountainside. She’s gone too far. A wash of disappointment slips over her as she realizes she may have failed in this endeavor. The clip in the tone of his voice makes it absolutely clear that she’s overstepped whatever boundaries they’d had as colleagues and acquaintances. Oh well. 

Ever the spy, Hill can most certainly twist to better suit her objectives. Relationships be damned. In her world, things like this often need to be jettisoned. ]

     I didn’t mean to offend you, Harry, but I’m asking questions that need to be asked as a concerned third party. You may be covering all of your bases, but that doesn’t stop Stark from attempting to steal second when you’re focused on the plate.

[ She folds her arms, purses her mouth. It’s become clear to her that despite the shiny exterior, the Extremis players aren’t exactly making nice with each other. If it didn’t have the potential to be a major problem for her, Maria might be content to sit back and watch them pick each other’s bones clean. She runs her tongue over her teeth, head moving a fraction of an inch in what could’ve been a slight admonishing shake. ]

         We’re busy people. 

[ A beat- the ‘we’ designed to realign them. They’re on the same side, remember? Then a huff: ]

                   Spectacular job, rebuffing third party interest. But there’s a line somewhere that, when crossed, turns private into suspiciously clandestine.

         I’d know.


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