AUTHOR'S NOTE: Well, this is my first Pepperony fic that I'm posting but I was just so inspired after watching the Avengers movie, I had to jot down a little story. I've loved Pepper and Tony's relationship in the Iron Man movies and find their dynamic really appealing. I'm a sucker for the bad boy being undone by the good girl. I like that they're complete opposites in every way and I love the back and forth of their relationship.

I'm also a sucker for ensemble casts and complicated relationships. I love the dynamics of the newly formed Avengers and all those big personalities involved, so I can't help but have a bit of fun with that as well. I'm a dialog ho, so I love it when my characters talk. This story picks up where the Avenger's movie leaves off, so hopefully you've all seen the movie by now. :D

Please let me know if you'd like more of this story if you feel so inclined. I've started a few Pepperony fics but never gotten around to finishing them, but would like to at some point.

Hope you enjoy and have some fun with it...


Do not seek the because –

in love there is no because, no reason, no explanation, no solutions.

Anais Nin

Chapter ONE

Steve Rogers pounded on the punching bag in front of him, letting the steady rhythm of his strapped knuckles hitting the padded surface block out any unwelcome thoughts. When he let his brain work he had to think about all the things he'd lost. He was a man out of time and out of place, and he simply didn't know how to go about fixing that or knowing how to belong. Just because a group of misfits had come together and saved the world once and been given a name, it didn't make them a team. Steve knew, because he'd been part of a team before, the best team any person could hope to belong to. The newly formed Avengers were a very long way away from the band of heroes he'd led back during the war. A sliver of frustration found its way through the numbness he was trying to cultivate and a too hard blow landed on the punching bag, sending it flying across the room.


Steve's eyes immediately focused on the young woman who'd just entered the gym and was promptly forced to jump over the flying bag, or risk being flattened by it. His heart leapt at his carelessness. "Miss Potts," he said, quickly running over to her, "are you alright? I'm so sorry."

Pepper Potts shook her head and batted away the dust-filled air at the same time. "I'm fine, and I told you, call me Pepper."

Steve still felt badly, he could have easily killed the willowy strawberry blonde. He put a steadying hand on her arm as she moved to step away from the broken bag. "I wasn't paying attention. I'm sorry, are you sure you're okay?"

Pepper gave a wry little smile. "I've worked with Tony long enough to be fast on my feet. It's kind of in the small print of my job description."

Steve gave her a curious look, wondering not for the first time what this young woman's story was. Out of everyone he'd met in this strange new world, Pepper had seemed the most normal, and the easiest to be around. She wasn't a demi-god, cocky narcissist, or one temper tantrum away from a green tsunami. Pepper was always seemed calm and oddly comfortable in what had to be a strange world to her as well. Steve wondered how she did it and he wondered even more how someone like her had ended up with the likes of Tony Stark.

She put a hand to her cheek. "Do I have something on my face, you're staring."

Steve hastily dropped his hand and stepped away. "No, ah, sorry." He could feel the blush heat his cheeks and hoped Pepper wouldn't notice. He may have the body of a super soldier, but inside Steve felt like the socially awkward fly weight he'd been his whole life. It was easy when he was in battle, he could see what needed to be done and how to do it. In everyday life, and particularly when it came to women, Steve wasn't sure of anything. He cleared his throat as Pepper was still looking at him expectantly. "You, ah, have freckles." Steve cursed himself inside at the clumsy save. He gave an uncomfortable smile. "I didn't notice before."

Pepper wrinkled her freckle-covered nose. "They're the bane of my existence."

"Oh no," he said quickly, "they're cute." He grimaced internally, worried he'd offended her. "Sorry."

"It's not your fault, it's this darn hair of mine," said Pepper blithely. She shook her strawberry pony tail which set off her pale skin to perfection. "I usually cover them with makeup, but-" she indicated her close-fit exercise clothes, "as you can see, I'm off for a run." She cocked her head and looked at him quizzically. "How come you're down here and not upstairs with the others?"

Steve looked away and searched for something to do. He picked up the defunct punching bag with one hand and carried it over into the corner, out of the way. "I just felt like a break," he said vaguely.

"I know this must be hard for you, Steve," said Pepper quietly, "but you need to start getting back into the world."

Steve arched an eyebrow. He jerked a finger up at the ceiling where, many stories above them, Tony Stark was holding court with the rest of the Avengers and showing off his various toys to them. Stark Tower had become the official Avengers club house it seemed, and while it had every comfort and piece of technology imaginable, it also came with the very annoying Tony Stark. "And that would be what the world is like?" he asked harshly. He grimaced at hearing his own tone. "Sorry, I didn't mean to be rude, Miss, ah, Pepper."

Pepper half-smiled. "Granted, they might not be completely representative of your average New Yorker," she agreed, "but you have to start somewhere." She winked at him. "And if you can handle those guys, just think how easy normal people are going to seem to you."

Steve couldn't help but laugh at that.

Pepper walked up to him and gave him a playful nudge. "Come on, you can start with coming on a run with me."

"Tony won't mind?"

Pepper looked at him in surprise. "What do you mean?"

Steve hesitated. "I mean, you're his girl and I don't-". He trailed off, not really sure what he was trying to say and feeling embarrassed again.

Pepper just looked amused. "I just asked you to come jogging with me, not to father my first-born, Steve. You have to learn to relax a bit."

"It's just that things are really different in this world and to be honest, I didn't know what the hell I was doing in my time, let alone this one," said Steve, surprising himself with his burst of honesty.

Pepper pursed her lips. "That sounds about normal. No one really knows what they're doing in this world, especially when it comes to relationships."

"Tony seems pretty confident."

Pepper gave a rather loud snort. "Trust me, he shouldn't be."

Steve eyed her speculatively.

"You're wondering why I'm with him, aren't you?"

Steve was taken aback at being found out. "Ah, no." He hesitated. "Okay, yeah, I am. The guys a blow hard and really annoying and he always thinks he knows best."

Pepper didn't look offended on Tony's behalf. "Yes, he is, but that's not all Tony is." She gave a little warm smile. "There is more to Tony then meets the eye, he just doesn't show it to everyone."

"I guess I'll have to take your word for it," said Steve sceptically.

"You'll see," said Pepper confidently, "once you get to know him and get past wanting to choke the life out of him, you'll see there is really sweet guy in there." She paused. "Well, sweet isn't quite the right word, but trust me, there is a certain charm to him, over time."

"Ah huh."

"You don't sound convinced."

"I don't like to disagree with a lady."

Pepper laughed. "So, are you up for this run or not?"

"I've already done my run for the day," said Steve. "I think I'll just work out some more."

Pepper put her hands on her slim waist. "Don't think I can keep up, is that it?"

Steve opened his mouth and then closed it again, not sure if the truth was what this situation called for.

She rolled her eyes. "Fine, but let me tell you this, Captain America, until you can run full tilt in five inch heels, you've got nothing on me."

Steve laughed at her little dig.

With a last look of feigned defiance, Pepper put a little white ear piece in each ear and pressed the surface of a flat, rectangular thing attached to her arm. She gave him a little wave and headed off out the door which opened onto a tunnel which in turn led to the street outside. Steve watched her go and realised for the first time in a long time, the smile hadn't left his face yet.