Day the First

It's not her first interview, nor will it be her last.

(She prays. She doesn't want this job forever)

As she's sitting there, ankles crossed demurely, she can't help but look at the other girls. Did they go through the same things as she did? Reviewing the competition, she thinks probably not, but then, who is she to judge?

How did she get to this spot in her life? How did any of them?

Personal Assistant. More like professional mother-hen. What would drive someone to actually sign up to baby-sit a misbehaved rich man with too much free time? Well, she knows. Money.

She has to do something to pay off her college debts. There's not much that an English degree in Shakespearian prose from Brown will get you in life. She is practical, if not happy, and she knows that she can do this job, no matter how gruesome it is. She knows what the job entails, even if it's not in the fine print. Pepper is sensible, despite her name and her shoes (pale pink with a large black silk flower on each heel), and she has prepared herself for the worst.

Sexual harassment, late-night beer runs, endless laundry and organization, and a very, very large amount of patience with spoiled men. She thinks she can handle all of it. All she has to do is concentrate on doing the job. She isn't a slacker. She can handle almost anything, patience and organization wise (messy roommates do have a use, sort of) and the sexual harassment won't be an issue. She is very matter-of-fact, and she keeps her work relationships distant (not to mention spiked pumps are very useful for kicking in certain places). The other girls, she notices, are excited about this interview. As if meeting the great Tony Stark will be an immeasurable blessing. To them, she guesses, the sexual harassment might even be welcome.

"I just want to dig my fingers into his hair!"

Very welcome.

She doesn't quite hold back the snort, and a vast amount of perfectly dyed and coiffed heads turn instantly to look at her. Well, apologies then. Sorry, ladies, for interrupting your fantasy time.

"I- I'm sorry."

The woman who was raving about her potential bosses' hair turns to give her a disdainful look. Her. A disdainful look. At least she's not the one who's drooling after an arms inventor and future employer.

"Is there something funny?"

She manages to contain her smile as she twists her ponytail in her hand. Careful, Pepper. One step wrong here and they might insult your manicure. Honestly. She sees only two other women who aren't falling out of their shirts and only five others with PDA's and binders.

"No, ah, I was just curious if you spend this much time fantasizing in preparation for all your interviews."

The girl raises an eyebrow. Pepper smiles.

"Sweetie, its Tony Stark. Everyone fantasizes."

Pepper smiles wider.

"Oh. I'm sorry then. Well, I didn't realize. He must be very attractive."

There are a large number of barely-concealed gasps from the women who were pretending not to eavesdrop.

The brunette leans forward to stare intensely at Pepper.

"You've never seen him? What, do you live in a cave?"

Pepper does not, in fact, live in a cave. She lives in a nice little apartment with a very large shoe rack. It has its flaws. As in, rats the size of her head, but hey, it has the shoe rack. And a bed that is not stained.

"No, I'm sorry, I do not."

The woman stands up and saunters over to the counter, plucks up about four magazines and tosses them at her. Hard.

"There. GQ, Time, National Geographic and Vanity Fair. All this month. Do you always prepare this well for interviews?"

She smirks and sits back down.

Pepper ignores her as she flips through the magazines. Page after page of the same smirking face, tousled hair, arrogant quips. Pepper is forced to admit that she's lost this round. He is, in fact, very attractive. And apparently she hasn't done her research, since according to GQ, Stark is "Highly volatile and eccentric, having fired fifteen Personal Assistants in the last seven months, though this magazine has doubts as to whether that's due to a failure to do the job well enough, or if its due to something else, something a little more intimate, if those pictures circulating the web are to be believed….."

"Virginia Potts?"

She stands up, leaving the many faces of Tony Stark staring up from her seat. She tries not to feel like she's entering the den of a lion. She is, after all, wearing her special shoes. And she is not about to be seduced, embarrassed or most likely even hired by Mr. Tony Stark. The man, she decides, based on the toy robot he's got walking around his office and the massive pile of papers stacked in one corner, and the fact that he's not even there for the damn interview, is an imbecile. After all that preparation, she is sitting in an empty office. Pepper fumes and relaxes into a squishy leather chair. She doesn't notice the security camera as she mutters to the empty office about irresponsibility.


"I like her, sir."

"No, Jarvis. Did you hear her? She insulted me! And the wenches!"

"You really shouldn't call them that, sir. We're still fighting the last lawsuit."

"Eh, it's hard to argue sexual harassment when you've got those pictures splashed across the web. I mean, she volunteered to do that thing! I was just a victim of her gold-digging ways, Jarvis. A victim of inflicted cleavage and intent to marry. Anyway, it'll blow over."

"That wasn't exactly my point, sir."

"But how can you like her? That hair…..No, I don't like redheads."

"She seems very sensible."

"Hmmmph. She didn't even know who I was. How can you not know me? I'm like a legend!"

"Respectfully, your head could do with some de-flating, sir."

"Do you want to become an ashtray?"

"Calculating arc patterns now."

"Attaboy, Jarvis"

.....

"I do like the shoes though. Kinky."

"Yes, sir. Very erotic plastic flowers, those are sir."

"Mmm."