A/N: Hello my faithful readers! This is my first fanfiction...ever. I read many, attempt few, but this one finally broke the barrier of my head and made it to the computer. Please enjoy!!!
There were two things Pepper Potts always loved most: the rain and the dark.
A certain boss by the famous name of Tony Stark could fit in that category, but she didn't always love him. There was a time when he remained as just her boss. There was no use in getting involved with someone who brought a new woman home on a daily basis and forgot their names days later.
No, Pepper could only love the new Tony Stark, the changed one that came back on a plane from Afghanistan four months ago after being held captive for three months prior. Obadiah told her, on the day he died, that Tony left a part of him back in the cave that she learned to loathe, but she could only be thankful that it was his selfish side: the side that cared only for his enjoyment.
She knew that she had love for him, a sisterly love when she would look out for him through finances and safety. It wasn't until he was gone that she truly missed him and realized how hard it was to live without the one constant thing the remained for the four years she worked for him. Her parents died in the first year, friends abandoned her over the next two, but he was always there in the morning, waiting for an espresso and things to sign.
She only came to love him, and admit it to herself, when she saw the care for her in his eyes, the gentle way he held her on the fateful night that they danced, and the way that he always revisited that night. He never spoke about past women, but Pepper noticed the way that the night came up in conversation a total of three times, and she couldn't help the small heat that rose to her face whenever it did.
She would curse that night when her dreams contained it, fulfilling what she could never do in reality, but she never imaged that on one day in the rain and the darkness of a California storm, it would change her life.
Pepper Potts awoke on December 23rd to the two things she always loved, only to see the third thing that she came to love recently two hours later. Her arm reached over to silence the buzzing alarm and her eyes adjusted to the darkness of her room. The heavy raindrops hit her roof and windows as she showered, dressed, and grabbed her coffee to go to the Stark mansion in Malibu.
She was accustomed to waking in the dark, but it was especially dark in the early hours of four in the morning, a whole hour before her usual wake up time. Los Angeles traffic was already horrific and a rain storm would only allow for more accidents and a longer, more boring ride.
Her kitchen clock read 5o'clock when she left, hot coffee in hand, and her newly designed PDA in the pocket of her faux fur coat. Tony begged her to accept his new model after her last one was obsolete and most likely hacked by Obadiah. She reluctantly accepted on Monday and was thankful ever since. Pepper walked into her car, sipped her extremely hot coffee, and started the engine.
Her drive was underscored by the smooth jazz she adored and within forty five minutes, she arrived at the mansion, all traffic avoided. She turned into the winding garage, the music being cut off by the smother voice of Jarvis.
"Good morning, Ms. Potts. You're here an hour early," Jarvis pointed out and a quick look at her car's clock confirmed that it was only 5:47.
"Well Jarvis, it seems that my deciphering of traffic isn't as perfect as it should be in LA." Seeing as this was the forth time traffic, or in this case lack thereof, got the best of her, Jarvis' next suggestion was already current in Pepper's head.
"Perhaps you should take up Mr. Stark's offer on that GPS. I wouldn't be interrupting your radio that way, Ms. Potts." Pepper, usually stubborn when it came to Tony's gadgets and gifts, considered this offer.
"Maybe I will Jarvis. Talk to you in a bit." She parked her car in the normal spot near the rest of his sport vehicles and walked up the stairs into the mansion.
The rain hitting the large windows left Pepper breathless against the beauty. The mansion was dark aside from the few hanging lights that were always left on in the kitchen for easy sight and Tony's midnight snacks. Still enraptured with its beauty, Pepper didn't turn any other lights on and she took another sip from her hot coffee.
"Jarvis," she whispered while trailing her fingers along the marble countertop in the kitchen.
"Yes, Ms. Potts?"
"Do you believe it would wake Tony if I made myself some toast?" Pepper's stomach grumbled at the idea. She left so early that she forgot about grabbing something at home.
"Mr. Stark is already awake. He is on the balcony in his bedroom." She couldn't hide the surprise that came from the idea. Tony Stark was hardly ever awake before eight, let alone noon on some days.
The toast idea was easily forgotten along with her coffee and deposited coat as she walked down the hall toward his bedroom. The door was ajar and she pushed it open, her breath hitched in her throat. Pepper thought the sight before her was even more beautiful than the rain on the windows.
In front of her was the sight of rain hitting waves on the ocean, but much closer, blocking part of that view, was a shirtless Tony Stark in plaid pajamas seeing the same view in front of him. She could only shiver from what she thought was the cold, but something inside poked her with other reasons.
"You're early, Ms. Potts." Tony spoke those words with the exact voice she would expect, but she could hardly stand at the sound of it on top of everything else. Her senses were all in overload. The view of the rain, darkness, and the man she loved. The sound of the rain and the voice of the man she loved. The smell of the rain and the intoxicating scent of the man she loved. All that was left was taste and touch. Two things Pepper could yearn for, but never have.
"Yes," was all her lips could mumble out. Her legs took her over to her boss' form, her body temperature increasing. She then stood next to him, looking better at the view and feeling the few drops of rain that the wind pushed toward her. It was all too much, the dark sky with gray clouds and the violent ocean beyond.
"I don't like it when you're early; it means you've slept less. What's wrong?" The concern in Tony's voice touched her and she left out a sign, finally being able to form sentences.
"I slept just fine, Mr. Stark. I just thought there would be traffic so I left early." A small smile finished the sentence that came out a bit too fast for her liking. Pepper told herself to calm down in her head, but she could not be at ease.
Tony smirked. "Yes, but leaving early usually means waking up early." She silently cursed her boss for not dropping the subject, but melted a bit at his continuous care. Pepper knew it would be the death of her.
"Trust me Tony, I'm fine." Pepper froze at the fact that she called him by his first name, but it seemed to go unnoticed. Still, she told herself to be more professional, even in their less professional position. "I sleep better in the rain anyway."
"That's good, Pepper." She silently cursed her again as he did notice and cursed his little smirk that returned. "I do too, just seems to calm me. God knows I've had enough sunlight for the year, let alone the rest of my life." He tapped the arc, something Pepper alone noticed that Tony did when he was deep in thought. What he didn't do was make some sort of comment about sleeping better with her in the bed. Despite his "change," Pepper sometimes thought he would still make those comments, and often found her mind piecing them together itself.
Tony placed his hands on the rail in front of him and Pepper, knowing that Tony needed comforting before the memories of what happened became too harsh, placed her small palm over his large knuckles and gave it a small squeeze, still letting it linger. He looked over and gave her a genuine smile.
It took Pepper two and a half minutes of standing there in the sound of rain to have her thoughts linger to the damn night. Her eyes became tense as she relived the moment of almost kissing Tony on the balcony in that charity benefit, thoughts and all. She could practically see Tony's tuxedo-covered form in front of her and the way her mind raced. Pepper could only wish that she wasn't a coward, that she kissed Tony and removed the relationships of boss and assistant, friend and friend. She wanted a lover and lover relationship with the man next to her, but her ability to think, too much at that time, stopped her.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, Pepper," Tony began, "just because I have a moment doesn't mean you can have one. I don't share depressing things, not with you at least." Tony's voice cut through her thoughts and she just smiled.
"I'm fine," was all she replied, but Tony could see the exact opposite in the eyes that he adored.
"No, you're not fine, and I will stand here all day until you tell me." Pepper couldn't decide if Tony was being friendly, or if he was doing the care thing. She hoped for the latter, but could only trust the first.
"Tony, I'm fine really-" He cut her off.
"Don't you dare lie to me, Pepper, not you too." Only he could know when she was lying, and Pepper could only feel herself melt a bit more. His tone scared her. Did he really care that much? The only thing she couldn't do, however, was bring herself to speak.
She had one idea, and before her mind fought against it, Pepper's hands reached out, grabbed the back of Tony's head, and pulled it down to kiss her.
Both of their eyes widened in the shock of what was just done, but then closed as Tony kissed her back. Pepper broke the kiss, froze, then began walking away before his arm grabbed her and pulled her frail body toward him.
"Ummm, what was that?" Tony was still stunned from what happened, his blinking eyes told Pepper so. Her face turned bright red and she praised her beloved darkness for leaving it unseen.
"I…Since we…danced that night and we almost…but we didn't…so I did…" Pepper could feel her eyes watering. She was weak again and her mind punished her for kissing him by leaving her speechless. Her eyes stung as a tear slipped by, but unlike the red color that left her face, this single tear was seen by Tony, and wiped away by his thumb.
"Not that," Tony began. "I liked that. That can be revisited." Pepper let out a little laugh and wiped her eyes dry. "But, people aren't supposed to leave after that. At least not me, I wouldn't catch myself leaving after Virginia Potts finally kissed me."
"Virginia? Thanks Tony, but I'll stick to Pepper." She couldn't hide the smile that forced its way out. Tony didn't hate her, Tony wanted it. Pepper felt like a high school girl who just found out her crush liked her, but she was an adult now. No crushes, no like-liking anyone, just love and lovers.
"So…I'm sorta new to this whole feelings thing. Shall we do the revisiting?" Tony finished the sentence with a smirk and Pepper could only nod. He then crashed his lips onto her in what could only be described in Pepper's mind as a "kiss long missed." His tongue pushed her lips open and he was granted entrance, Pepper moaning at the sensation.
When they broke for air, both panting from force and the need for oxygen, Tony pulled the hair tie gently from her bun, releasing the slightly damp hair from the restraint and letting it fall to her shoulders.
"I really hate when your hair is up," he commented while playing with one of the strands.
"Sorry Tony, have to keep it professional in the office." She shuddered when he trailed a finger down her neck and hit a certain spot.
"Well, Ms. Potts, we're not in the office and we have no meetings today. How about a relaxing and strictly unprofessional day before the Christmas weekend?" Tony was officially after her heart.
"I dare say, Mr. Stark, that's not a bad idea."
"You dare say? All my ideas are brilliant!"
The day was, in fact, unprofessional with some prep-cooking for the next day's dinner. Tony and Pepper always shared Christmas Eve together for dinner with Happy and Rhodey. It was, as Tony phrased it, "The calm holidays for Tony Stark and his personally posse."
While cooking as much as they could, Tony and Pepper snuck a few kisses in and when all that could be prepared ahead of time was done, they stood in the rain and the gray outside.
"I love this," Pepper murmured while the rain fell down on her.
"Oh? What part?" She smiled at him.
"The part with you and me, out in the rain, and it all feeling right." He hummed in her neck while kissing it gently, his wet mustache tickling her.
There was a moment of silence that was no where near awkward as they stood there. Pepper watched the rain hitting the ocean and Tony watched her.
"Thank you." Pepper turned around to face the comment.
"For what?" She wore a confused face that he went in to kiss.
For another moment, there was silence. "For everything. For being Pepper. For always being there for me. For helping me get out of that damn cave alive. For being the first person I loved that didn't leave me."
"You're welcome. I love you too." They kissed again in the hard rain, though this kiss was soft with love, and not just passion.
Bosses and assistants were killed, as were friends. Two lovers were born in the two things Pepper Potts loved most.