Hi all! As you can probably tell (since this is 'movie verse'), I'm not the die hard Iron Man fan. But it only seemed right that every employee at the movie theater I work at, all being dedicated Marvel comic book fans, were very excited when we got the new Iron Man movie last Friday. I admit I wasn't too excited for it, but I absolutely loved it after seeing it. And so, being a sucker for unlikely romances, I had to write a 'what if' scene involving Tony and Pepper. Set during the movie, so spoilerish. I hope you enjoy it despite my lack of expertise. :)
Extra Dry, Extra Olive
It was unacceptable, the way she had just behaved. Pepper continued to reprimand herself sharply as she watched Tony go back inside for her drink, still shocked that moments ago her lips hovered so near to his. She nearly collapsed into him (and willingly would have) if she weren't so stubborn and levelheaded about their quote-unquote 'boss-assistant relationship.' She blinked a few threatening tears away, leaning against the railing for support as she regulated her breathing again.
A fine, fine job, Pepper, she scolded mentally. You should quit. He should fire you for that.
Not that it had seemed entirely unwanted on his behalf, but that was just how he was. She knew this and knew it well. Perhaps for the fact that her job was at stake or that she didn't want to end up like every other girl, alone in his bed the next morning with her clothes and a car waiting-
What am I thinking?! Stop it!
The unconscious was such a traitorous thing.
She sucked in a passing breeze, turning her face to the busy street far below. The wind picked the red curls off her shoulders gently and wrapped around her bare back soothingly. She shut her eyes at the relaxing sensation as it repeatedly died away and returned. Calm as she felt as opposed to a minute ago, her heart still raced.
Why did he even come? He was not supposed to come! Not that he wasn't allowed; it was his function. She reminded him of it several times to which he replied with an indifferent shrug, but yet there he was out of nowhere… Complimenting her dress, forcing her to stare into (not at) his eyes for a whole minute while they danced so closely…
It wasn't fair that she had to fight his charm while everyone else basked in it. It wasn't fair that a part of her was admitting to enjoying the comfortable way his hand rested on the small of her back during that very brief, agonizing dance. It wasn't fair that he could just… do that to people. Let alone her!
She was amazed at how much time she spent near his face in prepping him for interviews and statements, but adding alcohol and evening wear seemed to push the intimacy factor over the top for her. She couldn't look at him when he looked at her like that.
It was almost as if… he really did...
She had a good thing going with him, and it wasn't about to become more than professional in standing. People would be talking enough after that display downstairs.
'Where is Mr. Stark?'
'He and his assistant stepped out for a moment.'
Knowing winks and smiles would be everywhere.
'Oh… Miss Potts, is it?'
'She's after him like all the others I suppose.'
'Who can blame the girl? Tony's a charmer.'
All the horrible gossip…
'Lucky, lucky to have that job.'
'I bet she uses it all to her advantage, seeing him so much.'
'She must be a very 'personal' assistant-'
No! her mind yelled over them all. No, no, no!
She was respectable and honest and good and professional and-
"Extra dry, extra olive."
Caught off guard, Pepper's eyes went wide with panic.
Do not panic, her mind commanded. Don't you dare.
A small amount of confidence straightened her posture back to businesslike as she turned around, but it vanished abruptly; Tony was dangerously close and casual about it, raising her drink to her in the small space left between them. She felt unintelligently blank.
"Three olives," he said quietly, trying to meet her eyes with no immediate success. They were fixed on the drink for the longest time. Before he could feel put out by this, she took it from him with a courteous smile.
"Thank you," she managed. Pepper brought her flaming cheeks to the wind again, finding new fascination in the city lights. Tony stared at her expectantly, but the drink remained idle in her lose grasp. She couldn't bring herself to drink it now.
"You know, I have never seen you drunk before."
Pepper looked over at him slowly, his face hinting at amusement.
Tony chuckled, scratching his eyebrow lightly. "I have never seen you under the influence. Ever. Not that I haven't thought about it-"
"I will never be drunk, Mr. Stark," Pepper interrupted sternly, still avoiding eye contact. "Least not in your company."
Tony feigned surprise at the comment. "Really? That's a shame."
"No," she assured politely, "it's really not. I do not… get drunk."
She dazed out and swayed in place for a moment, guilty in the shadow of his smirk. Upon gripping the railing, Pepper emitted a frustrated sigh as Tony smiled.
"You're tipsy. I love it."
"'Tipsy' is not 'drunk.'"
"'Tipsy' is one drink away from 'drunk,' and you have it," Tony said with a nod to the glass she held.
"I don't get drunk," she stated matter-of-factly, looking into the untouched drink. Tony regarded her for a moment with rekindling desire, his head tilted to the side in devious thought.
"Honest to god, Pepper," he said conversationally, "I think you should start brown bagging it."
Pepper scrunched up her face in disgust, making a sound to convey it more clearly. "I should hope not," she said. "If I start drinking, your appointments and interviews and schedule and-and information would be a disaster."
"That's completely irresponsible."
"I leave my bar open all the time."
"I'm your assistant, not your drinking buddy."
"Got this vodka stuff back home right now."
"I'm done having this conversation, Mr. Stark."
"All of it. Olives included."
He reached into the drink and bit off one of the olives, chewing it as if it had no effect on him whatsoever. Pepper's lips stayed pressed together evenly as she watched him eat her olive, a staring contest somehow evolving from the silence by the time he had swallowed it.
"You know what I think?" he prompted, swirling the two remaining olives in the vodka she held.
"No, what do you think?" she responded bitterly amused.
"I think you're afraid to drink that."
Pepper refrained from laughing. "Afraid?"
"Yeah," Tony replied immediately. "You're afraid that drink will make you drunk 'in my company,' and people will say nasty, dirty things about you and I behind your back that, in my opinion, would be entertaining to hear."
Pepper shut her eyes and shook her head continuously in denial, pleading with him on a telepathic level to stop talking and just go away so she could think straight. He wouldn't give her the satisfaction, though. He took utter delight in her scowl.
"Yes, that's exactly what you're thinking," Tony said at her attempt to block him out.
"Mr. Stark, really, that is enough," Pepper said as seriously as possible. "I just… One of us has to stay somber and… Well, I prefer to eat my olives first."
She went to take the stick from Tony still swirling about in the drink, but he pulled it out of reach abruptly. Her shoulders fell in defeat as he pulled a second from the stick between his teeth and ate it.
"Tony, stop it-"
Suddenly, Tony held up the last olive right in front of her. The vodka made it shine, and the smell itself was intoxicating. Thrown off, she finally looked at him in confusion.
"Eat it," he said, taunting it before her. "Come on."
She reached up to take it from him, but he took it away again.
"Ah ah," he reprimanded lightly as she lowered her hand, perplexed. He brought the olive back near her lips and said, "Just eat it. Right here."
"Mr. Stark, this is less than appropriate," she found herself saying as she anxiously ran her hands over her dress. She felt caught between a rock and a hard place; saying 'no' was not as easy as it seemed.
"I'm curious to see how much less we can make it," he said airily. She let a small smile slip against her will, knowing he was always ready to test her limits with such comments.
She was running out of witty replies. Fast.
"Curiosity killed the cat," was all that came to her jumbled mind. Stupid, she thought angrily at herself. She was so preoccupied she hardly noticed that Tony had discreetly slid closer to her.
"Good thing I'm not a cat, huh?" Pepper mouthed wordlessly in search of another excuse, but he shook his head. "Just… eat the damn olive. Or I will."
Pepper was laughing. She had no reason to be, or was this situation exactly humorous, but she was indeed laughing. It was as if some force had been summoned deep within her, bound and gagged her voice of reason, and took full control. It was contagious; Tony's grin grew ever wider.
"Are you going to eat it or not?" he pressed.
"Fine," she finally complied. "If it will shut you up so we can just go back inside, I will eat the damn olive."
"Eat the damn olive," he repeated encouragingly. "Bite the son of bitch."
Pepper's smile softened. He was ridiculous in his requests, but she was used to it. After a short laugh escaped her, she closed her eyes and leaned in for her olive cautiously. Tony felt his body radiate nervously the closer she came.
Oh, what the hell. He couldn't help himself.
In a fraction of a second, Tony removed the olive from the gap and met her mouth with his instead.
Pepper's body went rigid. She was paralyzed with disbelief, but she found this so typical of him; it infuriated and captivated her equally. She did not remember moving the drink out from between them until after he had her against his suit. She tried not to let her defenses down, but for this moment it was nice to. She was letting this happen, God help her.
One of his hands found her waist and ran around to the smooth skin of her back, and Pepper felt a pleasant numbing sensation surge over her head and body. Without a care, he knocked the drink from her hand clear over the railing. Pepper broke the kiss, looking over at it astonished.
"You just threw my drink over the building?! There are people d-"
Tony turned her face back to him and took claim of it again, nothing frantic but the beat of his heart. She was going to quit after this. He knew it. She's up and leave him forever, unless he could persuade her otherwise.
Neither found it possible to tell when the kiss ended. They stood there for a time, one trying to comprehend it all while the other tried to figure out how to prolong it. After a minute or so, Tony opened his eyes, looking as dazed as she did.
"Y-Yes? Mr. Stark?" she added quickly.
He removed his hand from her back, holding up the olive again. Pepper was puzzled, but her mouth fell open abashed as he popped it into his mouth and chewed, wagging his finger at her.
"You… have terrible aim."
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