Author: Connect5 PM
Pepper's View retells the story of the first Ironman movie in Pepper's first person voice. We live inside her head more than the movies allow. The events roughly follow those of the film. Without a script in hand, the dialogue is not exact and purists will notice discrepancies in the exact chain of events. I have created scenes to tell the story from Pepper's perspective.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Sci-Fi - V. Potts/Pepper & A. E. Stark/Tony - Chapters: 4 - Words: 5,069 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 11 - Follows: 14 - Updated: 08-18-12 - Published: 07-20-12 - id: 8342299
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The weeks wore on. The initial flurry of activity in the wake of Tony's capture gave way to excruciating silence. On the good nights I lay awake wondering exactly when this personal assistant position had become so much more than a job. What kept me here, bypassing opportunity after opportunity? Why was I content to spend so many hours down in the lab with my boss as he tinkered and brainstormed and refined? And why in God's name did I miss Tony so much, miss our morning coffee, our planning sessions, our late night brainstorming dinners? These were questions I was unprepared to answer.
Memories flash-flooded my mind, comforting me and taunting me simultaneously.
"Pepper, I've been meaning to ask you, how do you like your new nickname?"
"My nickname?" Tony and I sat elbow to elbow. He tinkered with different settings on a proprietary missile guidance system, reading data to me so that I could enter it into his computer. As usual, his question came from the left field section of his brain.
"Not that anyone gets to choose their nickname," he smirked, adjusting the weight of a flight stabilizer.
"Well, Pepper suits me just fine. My nickname reminds me of when I got this job, pepper-spraying myself into your office."
He chuckled softly to himself, looking over at me out of the corner of his eye. "That old story, you actually believed that?"
"That's the story you told me," I replied defensively, feeling a little stupid. "Why wouldn't I believe you?" He kept smiling, leaving me out of the joke. I was learning that Tony loved to keep people off balance.
"I'm amazed you bought that story," he said, shaking his head.
I stopped typing, straightened up and looked a him, awaiting an explanation.
" Would you like to take a guess at the real reason I call you Pepper?"
"Is it because you are constantly peppering me with demands?" I smiled back, recovering my footing temporarily.
"No, although that is a true statement." Tony paused, a little half-smile playing on his lips. "There are so many reasons to call you Pepper. But I named you Pepper because I thought you were unusually hot."
I rolled my eyes at him. Professionalism was beyond Tony's capabilities. "Tony, how many times do I have to remind you that the employee-employer relationship requires certain . . . boundaries in order to succeed."
He turned his eyes back to the stabilizer, performing calculations and teasing me at the same time. "In fact, I should have called you Habanero. Habby for short."
"Tony, you would get so confused. Stark Industries already has a Happy, How could you have a Habby too? Let's stick with the pepper spray story."
" That's it! Perfectly balanced!" he announced, jumping to his feet. "Read the last 7 numbers to me."
And just like that, we were back to inventing better ways to destroy things.
Apparently Tony operated more effectively when amusing himself, I surmised. How could I possibly take him seriously? Flirting was hard-wired into his nature, he didn't even know when he was doing it. No chance that I would ever let a fling with my boss wreck our working relationship.
"So Ms. Potts, do you know what tomorrow is?"
"Tomorrow is a lot of things, Mr. Stark. What in particular are you thinking of?"
We were coming off a long couple of days together negotiating the purchase of Cerium, a rival energy company. I had walked back down to the lab to retrieve my jacket and a pair of shoes.
Tony eyed me playfully. "Tomorrow is your day off, Ms. Potts. How do you plan to spend it? "
I decided it was my turn to have some fun at the expense of my boss. "I thought I might come back here for most of the day, kind of hang around, maybe get a head start on the contracts for the Cerium acquisition."
Tony halted. His face betrayed candid pleasure at my response. "Really? You plan to spend your day off right here? Feel free to use the swimming pool, or the fitness center. It wouldn't have to be all work, you know. We can have a nice lunch on the terrace. I don't have anything planned until that movie premier at 7:00 pm."
Wow! Could Tony really be that excited to have me around for the day? I mean, I'd spent nearly the whole past month working with him. I almost felt badly that I had teased him.
"Tony, I'm kidding," I said in my most sincere voice. "I am not coming here tomorrow. Actually, I have a date. With that lawyer from Cerium."
His buoyancy evaporated, darkening his whole expression. "Which lawyer?"
"The lead attorney. He invited me to the Getty exhibit this weekend."
"The lead attorney? You mean the ... not that bald guy Kauffman?"
"Yes, the lead attorney. I prefer to describe him as trim and athletic," I added, refusing to let Tony belittle my date. "Tony, it's time someone besides you had a date around here."
" I don't date. Not exactly. I pick up. Or hook up." Tony had reverted to his typical jokes.
"I was being polite," I sighed. "Have you ever taken a woman to a museum?"
"Pepper, how long does it take to walk through the Getty Center?"
"Oh, 2 to 3 hours minimum ."
"Why would I want to talk to the same woman for 2 to 3 hours?"
"You've been talking to me for the last 2to 3 days."
"That's business. It's totally different. Besides, you're intelligent to talk to."
"Oh, why thank you, Mr. Stark."
"Enjoy your date, Ms. Potts. I just have one question."
"Just one, Mr. Stark?"
"Will you wear those heels you're holding?" he gestured to the shoes I had retrieved from his lab. "I don't remember Mr. Kauffman being quite as tall as you."
"Heels are not the best choice for a 2-3 hour walk through a museum. And Tony?" I narrowed my eyes at him.
"You are acting surprisingly immature right now. And a little possessive," I added, in a frustrated display of boldness towards my boss.
Our eyes locked for a long moment. I was unable to read what I saw in his gaze.
"Pepper, you're right," he admitted, suddenly serious. "I am being possessive. Of course you have a life outside of Stark Industries. Go enjoy yourself."
Then he leaned in conspiratorially. "My advice?"
"What?" I asked, a little impatiently.
Tony gave me his most charming smile. "Make his day and wear the heels. You look great in them. The blisters will heal."
I felt Tony Stark's eyes follow me all the way up the stairs and out of sight.
Over time, we had developed a complicated, almost indefinable relationship. Sometimes we interacted like good friends, sometimes like lovers, and then if we started to get too close we took shelter behind the strictures of our professional relationship. For years we had maintained an equilibrium by fluctuating between these different roles. We never talked about our relationship directly, instead relying on our actions to define it.
"Jarvis, do you have the current weather conditions and forecast for this evening?"
"As of 6:07 pm, the temperature is 89 degrees, humidity 61%, winds light and variable. Expect temperatures to remain in the 80's throughout the early evening, then dropping to 72 degrees overnight. Chance of rain near 0%."
"Thank you Jarvis. I will tell the catering crew to wait until 7:00 to set up the ice sculptures. With this heat wave, I am afraid they will be melted by the time the guests arrive."
"Even with temperatures falling to the mid-80's, the ice sculptures will melt at an average rate of 19.45% per hour. I recommend they remain in the refrigerated trucks as long as possible."
"Thank you, Jarvis. You are indispensable as my assistant party planner!"
"At your service, Ms. Potts."
Since accepting the job at Stark Industries, I had become principal coordinator of the lavish parties Tony enjoyed hosting at his various residences. But tonight, for the first time, Tony insisted that I stick around and enjoy the festivities. I had declined, claiming truthfully that I did not own clothing appropriate for Tony's crowd.
The next day a personal shopper bearing an array of cocktail dresses, swim wear, jewelry and other accessories arrived at my office.
Her visit revealed an uncharacteristic level of thoughtfulness and consideration from my boss. She informed me that Tony had arranged an expense account with the store so that I could select several fashionable ensembles befitting a member of his personal staff. And he expected no resistance.
Now I stood in my new threads, and I'll admit I felt a little excited and breathless at the prospect of attending one of Tony's signature parties. To be more specific, the female in me was eager to have a chance to feel sexy. As much as I hate to admit it, in retrospect I primarily wanted to look good in front of my boss. Which was inappropriate, unprofessional, and as I would soon learn, a wasted effort.
But at 7:00 pm that evening, the ice sculptures still stood perfectly formed in the Southern California heat, and I harbored a silly, secret excitement that Tony was about to see his long-suffering personal assistant in her hot new party clothes.
I do not know now long Tony had been staring at me when I first spotted him. A pair of brunettes competed for his attention but his eyes were on me. He excused himself and walked straight in my direction.
"Wow!" he greeted me.
"Mr. Stark. You're here!"
"So are you, Ms. Potts. So are you." He looked up and down at me. "As usual, I made the right decision by inviting you."
"As usual." I found myself clutching at the wet coldness of my seltzer glass. I could not remember ever feeling so nervous around Tony before.
One of the servers walked up and handed Tony a tumbler of scotch. He raised the glass in my direction and asked, "Would you like to trade in that ice water for something stronger?"
"I'm working tonight, so no thank you. Quite a lot to keep track of," I added lamely.
"I see you enjoyed the visit from your new stylist." He couldn't seem to pull his gaze away from my ... apparel.
"Stylist? Do you think I need a new style?"
"Honestly?" he feigned a look of concern. "Always room to improve."
I ignored his remark. Verbally, Tony might be teasing me, but his eyes were dishing out unadulterated compliments.
For a few moments, we may as well have been standing all alone in the balmy California evening. I felt a sparkly, suspenseful feeling welling up inside, over which I had no control.
"Maybe that drink is a good idea," I said, snatching a glass of white wine from the tray of a nearby server.
Tony raised an eyebrow as we toasted. I barely had time to swallow my first sip when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned to see Elbert, one of the assistant chefs. "Ms. Potts, could you please come to the service entrance to help sort out a billing issue with the seafood vendor? He's being a little difficult. I need your magic touch at the moment."
"You too?" Tony quipped under his breath to Elbert, who gave Tony a slightly confused look. My response was more of a glare.
"See, I am working tonight," I smiled back at him, setting the drink aside.
Tony stepped closer and let his hand rest on my arm for a moment. "Don't be long," he said in a soft voice, before I reluctantly turned away.
I did not speak to Tony again that night. The situation with the lobster guy took the better part of an hour to resolve. Afterwards I returned to the terrace, frustrated, dripping with sweat, and truly eager for a fresh glass of wine.
It didn't take long to pick Tony out, I merely followed the sounds of feminine laughter. I located him as he helped a woman out of the pool and wrapped her bikini clad body in a large fluffy towel. She swayed unsteadily against him, giggling as he guided her towards the house.
Just before he entered he paused and looked back, scanning the crowd thoroughly. Eventually he caught my eye, but turned away instantly as if he hadn't seen me. Then he continued through the doorway.
I made one more circuit around the terrace, greeting friends and associates numbly. My lips curved into an automatic smile when necessary. As soon I had assured myself that everything was proceeding according to plan, I retrieved my purse from the suite where I had intended to spend the night.
"Jarvis, could I have my car brought around to the front."
"Heading home early, Ms. Potts?"
"Fortunately, yes. We planned everything so well that I am no longer needed tonight."
"As you wish. Enjoy the rest of your evening."
I refused to believe that I detected a note of sympathy in that darn machine's voice. Was Jarvis somehow capable of picking up on human emotions?
Never again! I shouted to myself on the drive home, laying down personal ground rules for the rest of my tenure at Stark Industries. If you want to continue working for Tony Stark, understand your boss for what he is. Do not ever take his mindless flirting seriously. And for heaven's sake, do not take your feelings for him seriously! Find yourself a decent guy who will take your mind off the impossible. Soon!
All these memories and many more invaded my nights. Now, as I lay awake in the dark wondering if Tony was even alive, I admitted that my feelings, deeply buried, had never completely vanished. Tony Stark, with all of his brilliance and all of his failings, meant everything to me. It was pointless to waste energy denying that now.
"Please find a way to come home, Tony," I whispered into the blackness . "Please come home."