She couldn't believe she was going to do this. It was hard enough asking for favors when it was work related, but it was a whole new ball game when it was a personal favor. She made sure he was in the best mood possible before approaching him. He was currently down in his workshop hand painting parts of a suit with AC/DC blasting; he was wearing his favorite college shirt, and had a beer next to him.
She took a deep breath. This was it.
Pepper Potts walked down the stairs to the workshop of her boss Tony Stark to ask him a favor. To ask Tony Stark for a favor. She typed in the code and walked in. The music was so loud she doubt he heard her come in. She carefully approached him with her mind exploding. She walked up behind him and the she froze. He'd never do it. She turned away quickly, but when the music volume decreased she knew he knew she was here.
Pepper took a deep breath and turned around to face Tony. He was looking at her with his eyebrows raised and the beer in his left hand. Pepper panicked and she never panicked.
"I need you to…. To… sign some papers," She stuttered. Tony's eyebrows went higher and it was then she realized she had no papers in her hands. She sighed. "Oh never mind."
Tony stood up and followed Pepper over to where she sat down on the couch with her hands in her face. He placed his beer on the floor and looked at her with a worried expression.
"Is everything alright?"
'Wow, he actually noticed something for a change' she thought. She moved her hands and looked at Tony.
"I… I need to ask a huge favor of you." She said softly. She saw his lips curl up a bit, but she also saw he tried to prevent it, which is something he never hides.
"On a professional or personal matter?" When Pepper blushed he knew it was a personal matter. He just didn't know how personal. "What do ya need?"
She took a deep breath.
"Well, it's kind of a long story…"
Tony nodded. He stood up and moved to his desk. "Jarvis kill the music and Dummy bring us two beers."
"Yes sir." Jarvis replied and turned the music off. He retook his seat next to Pepper and Dummy brought them each a beer. Pepper took it and took a rather large sip before beginning,
"It started around four months ago…"
Pepper was sitting on her couch one evening watch "Date Night" with Tina Fay and Steve Carell when her cell phone rang. Pepper paused her movie and looked at the clock. It was nearly midnight so unless it was Tony calling someone was up very late. She looked at her caller ID and smiled,
"It is almost two o'clock in the morning where you are," she answered. "Out partying on Bourbon Street are we?"
The person on the other end of the phone laughed. It was her older sister Elizabeth, but Pepper always called her Lizzy.
"No!" Lizzy said cheerfully. "I'm calling because I'm engaged!"
Pepper screamed and jumped up.
"Oh my gosh! Congratulations! I knew Todd was the one for you!"
And so, they spent most of the night talking about Lizzy and Todd when Lizzy asked a question,
"So enough about my love life, time to dig into yours."
"It's non existent, Lizzy." Pepper sighed.
"Oh come on!"
And so Lizzy continued on Pepper until Pepper said something she knew she'd regret later.
"Okay fine! If you must know I sort of have a thing with…Tony…"
"No way! As in Tony Stark your boss?"
Tony raised his eyebrows again and gave a small smirk. He may find it amusing, but Pepper was horribly embarrassed.
"And I told her we were keeping it quiet and she could only tell mum and dad so now my family believes I've been dating you for four months and that I'm bringing you to my sister's wedding."
By the time Pepper was done her whole face was red.
"So," Tony said after a moment of silence. "You need me to fly to Louisiana with you and pretend to be your boyfriend for…."
"A week." Pepper said softly and looking at the floor.
Tony nodded. He stood up and finished his beer.
"So, when do we fly out?"
Pepper's eyes shot right up and met his. She slowly stood up to meet him face to face.
"You'd really do this for me?" she asked with a hint of shock. Tony smiled.
"Pepper, you've done so much for me this past decade. You've helped me with the press over Iron Man, you've helped me run my company, and soon my Expo will officially be open because of you. I think it's safe to say I owe you."
"You're welcome, so when do we fly out?"
"In two hours…." Tony's eyes went wide. He threw his beer bottle into the trash and headed towards the door. "Your jet is booked and your clothing is already packed,"
Tony stopped at the door and turned around. Pepper blushed. "I know it takes you six hours to pack and if you said yes I wanted to be ready."
Tony chuckled. Pepper smiled. This went… smoother than she thought it would.
Once they loaded the last of the luggage onto the plane, the pilot announced they would be taking off in moments. Pepper was seated facing Tony. The car ride to the airport had been quiet, but not an awkward quiet. Although, Pepper felt Tony was thinking something up. She wouldn't find out until they were in the air. He got that smirky look on his face and Pepper bit her tongue.
"So, how far am I going here boyfriend wise?" he asked with a smirk. Now the teasing would begin. Pepper took a deep breath and thought about it. Tony unbuckled his seatbelt and then hers. Her eyes went wide and she was about to protest when Tony pulled her from her seat.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Well we need to test the waters here if you want to fool your family."
Pepper bit her lip and then nodded in agreement.
"Very well. You can put your arm around me, hold my hand, and hug me." she said rather quickly. Tony chuckled.
"Well that's what a family would expect on the first month of dating not the fourth. People would expect the fourth month to be a bit more… touchy."
Pepper raised her eyebrows.
"Touchy?" Tony smiled and nodded. "Okay then Mr. Stark what do you have in mind?"
"Well, everything you said we can do but I think it needs a bit more heat to it for example," Tony said and moved towards Pepper. She found herself holding her breath. Tony put his arms around her and brought her close. His hands start on her back and he looks down at her. "This is first month, but fourth month is right…." He says and slips his hands down over her butt. Pepper jumped a little at the contact. "Here."
Pepper found her heart racing and she looked up at Tony.
"Well maybe they'd think we are trying to keep it PG around them and act like it is the first month."
Tony laughed. "That may make you look good, but not me. Now, may I continue explaining how I think we should approach this?" Pepper sighed but nodded. She hated being vulnerable like this. Tony removed his hands from butt and moved so he was behind her now. "First month of wrapping my arm around you would be just around your shoulder, but fourth month is this." he says and wraps both arms around her waist from behind. He brings her so her back is flush up against his chest. His arms are draped across her stomach and she can feel his breath up against her ear. Pepper gave a small smile.
"I uh… I see." Is all she could get out. Tony smirked.
"Now, holding hands is pretty much holding hands but we aren't done. You have missed a key point of a relationship."
Pepper knew exactly what he was talking about. He came back around to face her.
"Cheek." She said and tried to be firm. Tony raised his eyebrows and chuckled.
"Yeah, that is like first date not even close to fourth month."
He held his hands up and stepped back a little.
"Hey, I'm just trying to help you fool your family." Pepper sighed. He was right. She was lucky enough for him to be helping her.
Tony smiled. He was having a great deal of fun with all of this. Although hidden in the back of his mind he hoped he could convince her that maybe they could be what they were pretending to be.
"Now don't slap me away," he said smirking. Pepper rolled her eyes and prepared herself. Tony approached her again and held her close. One hand was on her waist and the other she felt brush against her cheek. She was looking Tony in the eyes, but soon found her eyes were fluttering closed. Pepper could feel his lips graze hers and he pressed a soft kiss to her lips before pulling back. Pepper slowly opened her eyes and found his. She looked deep into them and saw the usual Tony Stark Spark, but there was something else that she had never seen before. "That is a first month kiss, do I dare show you a fourth month?"
Pepper swallowed hard and looked at him. 'I might as well now so it isn't a shock in front of my family' she thought.
"Might as well." She whispered. Tony smiled softly and placed both hands on her face this time. His lips returned to hers, only this time it was longer and much more passionate. Tony found his hand in her hair and her arms were around his neck. Finally, Pepper came to her senses and pulled away. She and Tony were both out of breath.
"I think that's covered pretty well." Tony whispered. Pepper nodded. They then both retook their seats. Tony saw Pepper blushing and he smiled.
"Oh, I should warn you that my dad and older brother will interrogate you."
Tony was looking out the window, but his gaze shot back to Pepper. "How so?"
Pepper laughed at Tony's expression.
"What, the strong Tony Stark aka Iron Man afraid of two older guys?"
"Hell yes!" Pepper laughed and Tony loved it when she laughed. "How is he going to interrogate me?"
Pepper smiled, "Well, they will most likely catch you off guard. They did this to the guy my sister is marrying, but they'll be more protective of me since I'm the baby of the family. Lizzy said Todd was asked some pretty intense things."
Tony's eyes were wide.
"The usual, 'do you love her? Are you going to break her heart?' Oh and umm… 'Do you plan to marry her?' and then I don't know if Lizzy was serious or not but I guess my oldest brother, Jake, asked after my dad left how far he had been with Lizzy."
Tony's jaw dropped.
"Thanks for the warning. What do I say if I get asked that… last question?"
Pepper couldn't look him in the eye and the blush came back to her face.
"I don't know, say what you think is best for a fourth month, but within boundaries."
"Anything else I should be prepared for?"
She got the thinking look on her face. She didn't think anything else was important to warn him about. She shook her head.
"I think that is it."
It was somewhat quiet for the rest of the flight, which is surprising considering Tony never stops talking. His gaze was focused on the sky. Pepper was playing games on her phone. This would be an interesting week.
Tony and Pepper walked through the New Orleans airport and when they were about to reach security, Tony took Pepper's hand knowing her family would be waiting for them. They had changed into somewhat warmer weather clothing. They delt with it in California, but the humidity here was higher. He was wearing a white tank top with black sport shorts and a pair of Nikes. He also had his favorite pair of black-framed sunglasses on. Pepper was dressed in a light blue dress with her Prada sunglasses and a pair of black flats. It was a rare sight for Tony to see her not dressed in heels. Pepper moved to his ear and whispered,
Tony nodded and was going to answer when he saw a magazine and a thought hit him. The Press. Someone would recognize him soon enough and here with Pepper. He was about to mention it when Pepper saw her family. Tony looked over and smiled. Standing by the statue of Louis Armstrong were two women, one he guessed to be Lizzy, who was wrapped in the arms of a man, who must be Todd. The other woman was just a bit shorter than Tony and looked very much like Pepper. The other two men, who must be Jake and her father, were just about the same height as Tony although Jake was a couple centimeters taller. They were all waving at them and smiling. Pepper let go of Tony's hand to embrace her mother.
"Hi mum." Pepper said cheerfully and made her way through her family. Once she gave them all hugs, she returned to Tony's side.
"Tony, this is my mother Rebecca Potts, my sister Lizzy, her fiancé Todd, my brother Jake, and my daddy William Potts."
Tony met her father's eye and he immediately saw what Pepper warned him about. Tony wrapped his arm around Pepper and then shook Will's hand.
"It's nice to meet you all."
Pepper's mother smiled and embraced Tony, catching him off guard. He returned the hug with a smile and Rebecca kissed his forehead.
"It's so lovely to finally meet you Mr. Tony Stark." She said with a huge grin.
"Virginia has told us so much about you!" Lizzy added and shook his hand. Tony shook Todd's hand next.
"Did you bring your suit with you?" Todd teased. Lizzy elbowed him in the stomach and he groaned in pain. "What! It was just a question."
Tony smiled, "I've left all robot / machines things back in Malibu. We're trying to stay under the radar this week."
Rebecca's eyes went wide and she threw her arms in the air. "Oh right! We should get you both out of public eye. Here, let Jake and Will take your luggage and put it in the car."
Jake and her father stepped forward to take their luggage and they all walked out to the car. Tony expected two cars and his jaw dropped when he saw a black Yukon Denali Hybrid. Pepper's eyes went wide.
"Dad! What… how?" she questioned. Her father smiled as he put the luggage in the back, which surprisingly most of it fit besides one bag that would go in the isle.
"Uncle Tom is away in Italy and he needed someone to take care of it," Rebecca said to Tony and Pepper. "And I thought it would be only best to pick up my daughter and Mr. Tony Stark in the type of car they are used to," Jake rolled his eyes and Tony and Rebecca caught it. Tony took Pepper over towards the car door when he heard Rebecca scold Jake and William. "You two behave yourselves! You hear me? I better not find you three in the basement with a baseball bat like I found poor Todd!"
"We'll discuss this later." William whispered firmly and shut the back door.
"Tony and I can take the middle if you and Todd want the back." Pepper said to Lizzy. Lizzy nodded in agreement. The car arrangement ended up with Lizzy and Todd in the back row then Tony, Pepper, and Jake in the middle. Pepper was in between the men, something Tony found to be grateful for. It was a bit tight so Tony put his arm around Pepper's shoulders and brought her closer to him. He found it very easy to slip into the role of her boyfriend. What he didn't know was how easy Pepper found it to be his girlfriend and secretly enjoyed it. Pepper's head landed on his shoulder and he couldn't help but breathe her scent in. She usually smelt like peaches, but today it was something different.
"Did you use a new shampoo, Pepper?" he curiously asked. She nodded and was going to answer when William spoke up.
"Pepper?! Who in the sam hell is Pepper?"
"It's me daddy, and yes Tony I used a new coconut one this morning."
Tony nodded and moved his nose to her neck again. Pepper blushed and he smiled. "I like it."
Pepper was going to reply when William interrupted again.
"Why do you call her Pepper? Her name is Virginia!" William asked with a hint of anger. Rebecca slapped his arm.
"Will, be nice. I think it is cute that he's got a name for her."
"I've got a question," Todd said and leant forward. Lizzy gave him a glare. "Relax Liz, it's legit! Anyways, Tony is it true you've got a umm… blue thing in your chest?"
"It's called an arc reactor." Pepper clarified. Tony nodded.
"Yes, it kept me alive when I was kidnapped in Afghanistan. It still is keeping me alive. It prevents the shrapnel from reaching my heart. I put a slip over it though so I wouldn't be glowing as we went through the airport."
Todd nodded and sat back, "I know I'm not the one that has it, but it sounds cool."
Jake, who had been very quiet during the car ride, actually spoke up in this topic.
"Are we allowed to see it? From what the magazines have said is that you don't do photos with it."
Pepper felt Tony go a bit stiff and she was worried his sarcastic side was about to flare out, but it didn't. Tony calmly responded, "No, I don't do photos with it. I just… no it isn't something I wanted to do. However, I'll let you see it briefly when we get to your house."
It surprised Pepper when he said no to the press conference and photo shoot for his arc reactor. Usually Tony liked showing off his creations, Iron Man being a great example of that, but as far as she knew she and Rhodey were the only people alive to have ever laid eyes on it. He didn't even have women over anymore ever since the kidnapping, which was a greater surprise.
They pulled up to the house, an average size home with three bedrooms and two baths. Pepper knew it wouldn't be what Tony was used to, but she hoped it would do. They climbed out of the car and Tony went in the back to help with their luggage. Rebecca unlocked the door to the house and Pepper followed her in with Lizzy behind her. That left Tony alone with Jake, William, and Todd. Tony was about to head for the door when Jake grabbed his arm.
"We're gunna have a little chat later." He whispered in Tony's ear. Tony pulled away from him and headed into the house. When he walked in, he had to go down a couple of stairs and he was then in a small living room. Rebecca was seated on the couch and Lizzy was talking with Pepper. Tony smiled; this is where the fun would begin. He put the luggage down and quietly snuck up behind Pepper. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her cheek. She jumped a little, just because she was startled, but eventually relaxed into Tony's embrace.
"Where is our room?" Tony asked as the other men came in and Todd shut the door.
"You'll be staying in Virginia's old room." Lizzy answered and was cut off by William.
"Yes, Jake is right next door in his old room. He's staying in there this week. There's also a pull out couch in her room." He said and looked Tony in the eye. He still had his arms wrapped around Pepper, but didn't make any move to let go because he was being glared at. He decided against one of his usual comments and turned to Jake.
"Do you still live in the area or did you fly in?"
Jake's glare matched his father's, but he answered Tony. "I flew in from New York."
"Oh, really what part?" Tony asked while still hugging Pepper.
"Manhattan, I have my own gym company chain." He said while emphasizing the last part. Tony raised his eyebrows and nodded. Rebecca sighed and stood up.
"Virginia why don't you show Tony to your room and I'll start making dinner. Lizzy, care to help me?"
Lizzy nodded. Pepper and Tony collected their things and Tony followed Pepper to her room. He smirked at the thought of seeing her childhood bedroom. They stopped in front of a white door and Pepper turned the handle. Her room was blue with a white closet doors and blue curtains. A wood desk was in the right corner and her bed was in the left corner. Tony saw the pullout couch placed near the door. He imagined he'd take that, but Pepper piled their stuff on it.
"You're not using a pullout couch," She said and closed the bedroom door. Tony smiled and turned to Pepper. She knew that look and rolled her eyes. "My bed is big enough for both of us, but if you get touchy you're on the pullout."
He nodded. "Fine," and he reached for a bag and pulled out an alarm clock and laptop. She could understand the laptop, but an alarm clock? She had on. Tony turned it on and placed it on her desk. "You there Jarvis?"
"At your service as always, sir." The clock responded. Pepper's eyes went wide.
"Why did you bring Jarvis and is that even an alarm clock?" she asked with her hands on her hips. He loved it when she stood like that. He ignored her question and set up his laptop.
"Jarvis, connect to their security system and hack in." he ordered and began typing away. Pepper watched with curiosity and eventually began unpacking her clothing. She was about to open her closet when the alarm went off and her father began to yell.
"Tony!" she hissed and went over to him.
"Relax honey, I need your dad to punch in the security number… like that!" he answered cheerfully and the alarm stopped. Pepper smiled at him calling her honey and returned to putting clothing away.
"Talk to me Jarvis." She heard Tony say.
"I've breeched the security system and are downloading some adjustments as we speak, sir. It appears it is out of date."
"Perfect." Tony said and moved away from the computer. Pepper came out of her closet and watched him unpack his clothing.
"Why are you having Jarvis breeching my parent's security system without telling them?"
Tony took out his clothing and laid it out on the bed and answered, "If the press finds out I'm here I don't want any attempts at break ins or people snooping on the property." he then reached in and pulled out a small bag. He went over to the door and opened it. He peeked his head out and quickly installed a camera in the doorknob. He then shut the door and put the rest of the cameras next to the laptop. He did a few clicks and then felt Pepper behind him, fairly close. Soon, on the screen they could see the hallway at 360 degree angles.
"How did you manage to pack all this in two hours and you can't even pack clothing?"
Tony smiled and leant towards her ear.
"Has it ever occurred to you I like when you help me pick out my clothing?" he asked and kissed her cheek. He moved past her and continued to unpack. Before Pepper could respond, there was a knock at the door and Lizzy came in. Pepper closed the laptop quickly and turned to her sister.
"Mum wants you to give Tony the grand tour." She says. Pepper nodded.
"Download is complete sir, shall I send video to your phone?" Jarvis asked. Lizzy nearly jumped out of her skin at the voice.
"Who or what was that?" she asked with a hand on her chest.
"Do it Jarvis and send it to Pepper's phone, also install a tracking device and hook it up to the laptop." Tony answered.
"That's Jarvis," Pepper answered her sister. "He is an AI that runs Tony's house."
"Anyways," Tony said and grabbed the bag. "How about that tour?"
Pepper nodded and took his free hand.
"Shall I start outside?"
Tony smiled. She really knew how to read his mind. Pepper led him outside and out back. Once Tony placed all of his cameras, Pepper led them into the kitchen where her mum was setting up dinner.
"Dinner will be ready in ten minutes." Rebecca announced. Lizzy and Todd were sitting at the table with William. Pepper nodded.
"Where is Jake?" she asked.
"Bathroom," Todd answered and stood up. "So…"
Tony chuckled. He knew everyone wanted to see the arc reactor. Pepper smiled and leant into Tony.
"I'll show you the arc reactor in the living room. I think it'd be better there than in the kitchen."
Everybody but William laughed. They all followed Tony and Pepper into the living room where he sat down on the couch. Just as they sat down, Jake appeared.
"What's going on?" He asked.
"Tony is going to show us his arc reactor!" Lizzy said. Tony gave a small smile. Pepper sat down next to him on the couch while everyone stood around them. It was kind of weird having everyone look at him, but if this were how he was going to win Pepper's heart he'd do it. He took his tank top off and Pepper took it and put it on her lap. He then took off the cover that was hiding the glow of the reactor. Everyone's eyes went wide.
"That's what is keeping you alive?" Lizzy asked with a gasp. Tony nodded. "It looks painful."
"It was a bit at first, but I got used to it."
It looked like William was going to say something, but then Rebecca yelled,
Everybody standing headed towards the kitchen leaving Pepper and Tony on the couch.
"Thank you." Pepper whispered. Tony nodded and leant forward to Pepper's surprise and he kissed her. It was like the one on the plane. Pepper's hand made its way into his hair and brought him closer.
"Virginia, mum says… woah! Sorry!"
Pepper and Tony broke away and were startled by Lizzy coming into the living room and quickly running out. Tony smirked and Pepper blushed.
"Better her than your dad." He whispered in her ear and stood up. Pepper threw his shirt at him and he put it back on without the cover. The arc reactor glowed right through his tank top, but he didn't seem to care. What he did care about was how Pepper didn't push him away. It made him wonder.
That night, Lizzy and Todd headed back to their house while everyone else got ready for bed. Pepper was in the bathroom so Tony changed into his… pajamas. Then he checked on a couple of things with Jarvis. He heard the door open and could smell Pepper's peach lotion. He smiled and stood up from the desk. Pepper was wearing a pink tank top and black shorts with her hair up. He couldn't help but stare.
When Pepper walked into the room, Tony stood up and she couldn't help but stare. He was in black boxers, but no top. She felt her throat go dry as she shut the door and made her way over to her bed. Tony had that smirk on his face, knowing she couldn't help but stare at him.
"My mum likes you," she says as she climbs under the covers. "Although, you're not what she expected."
Tony raised his eyebrows and gave a small frown. He went over and sat on the edge of the bed next to her.
"What do you mean?"
Pepper put her head down on the pillow and looked up at him.
"To be honest she expected the billionaire playboy that the magazines show you as, but she likes this side of you much better."
Tony nodded and looked down at her,
"And which side do you prefer?"
Pepper blushed and looked down at her hands. She was fidgeting until Tony rested one hand on top of hers. She looked up and met his eyes. He raised his eyebrows and waited for his answer.
"I like this side of you, but part of me misses the other side. Only a small part though!"
Tony smiled and kissed her forehead before climbing over her carefully and settling next to her. Pepper looked at him. "I've noticed you keep kissing me even when we aren't around anybody."
Tony shrugged and settled underneath the covers.
"Have to stay in character," he said. He then moved and whispered in her ear. "Or maybe I just like kissing you."
Pepper blushed even redder as Tony clapped and the lights went out in their room.
"Let me guess, Jarvis?" she whispered. Tony nodded. "Good night Tony."
Tony chuckled and turned onto his side so he was facing Pepper. Their eyes met in the darkness and the glow of the arc reactor. She thought he was going to repeat it when he said,
"Why is this room so damn hot?"
Pepper couldn't help but burst out laughing and she sat up.
"I'm sorry," she said after she stopped laughing. "It must have been my dad. Like I said… he is protective. I think he did it to prevent us from… you know."
Tony's eyes went wide.
"Seriously? You're a grown woman!" he said. The look on his face then turned into a smirk and he whispers, "But what he doesn't know is I'll go under any temperature."
Pepper playfully slapped his chest and got out of bed. Tony followed and he quietly opened the door. The halls were dark and it seemed like everyone went to bed so he and Pepper quietly walked through the house looking for the AC stat.
"Where is it?" Tony whispered. Pepper shrugged. "How can you not know you've lived here?"
"My dad did modifications to the house three years ago. Just come on!" she whispered back and took his hand. They looked around the house with the arc reactor glowing as a flashlight.
"I found it!" Tony whispered and pulled her towards the back door leading to the patio. Pepper opened the panel and saw it was at 85 degrees. Tony's eyes went wide. "That's hotter than the temperature outside!"
"That's my dad for you." She said and turned the AC on so it would become 70 degrees.
"How can he sleep in that?" Tony asked.
"My parent's room doesn't connect to the AC for the house so they have their own. Jake probably was in on this as well."
"What was I in on?" a voice asked. Tony and Pepper nearly jumped out of their skin and turned around. The light was flicked on and Jake was standing there in shorts and a tee shirt.
"Why is the AC not on? It is an oven in our room." Pepper said firmly and walked over to Jake leaving Tony next to the AC stat.
"I was actually coming out to turn it on." Jake answered.
"Oh," Pepper said and stepped back a bit. Jake looked at Tony. "Well we're going back to bed. Good night."
Jake nodded and Pepper headed back to her room and Tony followed when Jake stepped in his path.
"How about you put a shirt on." He said to Tony in a low voice. Tony chuckled. The other side of him, his usual side, came out.
"Nah, I'm better off without a shirt." Tony answered and pushed past Jake and back down to Pepper's room.