A/N: These will be 100 drabble-style one-shots, each based on a one-word theme (chapter theme is included in the chapter title), with no per-chapter word limit. For the first few chapters you may notice I'm getting a feel for the characters and relationships, because this is my first time writing Pepperony and I'm not so great at writing with characters that aren't my own. (I know, why write fanfiction then, right? Well, it's good practice, and I need practice, especially in the romance department.)
Oh, and just know that anything I say that may be insulting about Spider-Man in this particular chapter is for the purposes of the story only. I love all superheroes. DC and Marvel both.
"That is so like you, Tony!"
Tony Stark cringed. Boy was he in trouble. And not the sort of trouble he could take down in his metal suit. This was girlfriend trouble. Pepper trouble. And worse than usual, too. Today, for whatever reason, Pepper was refusing to be rational. In an ironic role-reversal, he was being the reasonable one and she was refusing to listen. And what was worse, Tony had no idea what had caused it.
The extravagant billionaire followed his fuming redheaded girlfriend-slash-personal assistant into the house. The clack-clack of her black kitten heels led him into the foyer, and the both of them ignored Jarvis's customary, "Welcome home, Mr. Stark, Ms. Potts."
"Pepper, come on, give me a chance to explain," Tony pleaded to Pepper's retreating form as she barged into her office and threw her BlackBerry onto the accumulating piles of paperwork Tony made her deal with. The piles were labeled with different colored sticky notes. As easily distracted as a hyperactive puppy, Tony read some of the labels: Things Tony Needs to Sign, Events I Have to Drag Tony To, Personal Expenses, Records of Tony's Past One-Night Stands.
She has records of every woman I've ever slept with? Wait. Why am I surprised? She's probably making sure I don't give her AIDS. And avoiding any more "guess what you're the father of my child" fiascos. Thank goodness that was a false alarm. Worst birthday ever. I hate lawsuits.
Abruptly, Pepper turned on her heel, just as Tony was reaching out to place a hand on her shoulder. She prodded his chest with her finger in that no-nonsense way of hers, careful to avoid hitting the arc reactor, and fixed him with a fiery glare.
"Explain?" she repeated. "I don't think so, Anthony Stark." Ooh, his full name; this was bad. This was a Code Red relationship situation if there ever was one. "In fact, I don't want to here anything you have to say!"
"Well, I wouldn't even know what to explain," Tony said, "Because you still haven't told me why you're upset! And I'm really confused!"
"Good! About time someone finally stumped Mr. I Know Everything Stark!"
Pepper was clutching her small black purse close to her chest, reorganizing the papers on her desk in a frenzy before attempting to shove past Tony, who was blocking the doorway of her office. He grabbed her shoulders firmly, and, with a huff of reluctance, Pepper stood still.
"Get out of my way, Tony," she ground out through gritted teeth.
"Not until we talk about this," he said. "Come on, you always want to talk about everything, and usually I refuse to listen, but now you're the one being unreasonable."
There was an extended moment of silence during which Pepper showcased the "I am not amused" look she had perfected shortly after becoming Tony's PA.
"Now that you've shed light on the irony of this situation, are you done manhandling me?" Sarcasm. Good. That meant they were on the right track. Tony could handle Sarcastic Pepper much better than he could handle Unreasonable Pepper.
"Only if you promise you won't run away." Tony didn't wait for Pepper's response; he released her shoulders all the same. If she wanted to run, he wouldn't stop her. Okay, maybe he would, but he had to at least act like he wouldn't.
Tony watched Pepper's eyes as she struggled with wanting to run from her problems, determining it would in fact be better to talk things through, and plopped her perfect butt into her desk chair. Tony cleared a space for himself among Pepper's piles and perched on her desk, discarding his jacket and shoes on the floor, to Pepper's obvious annoyance.
"Pepper," he bean slowly. "I understand that you're upset. I can't imagine why you would be, and it would really be helpful if you told me, and I promise to listen."
Tony wasn't used to being the rational one in this relationship, but as Pepper started to cool down, he realized he wasn't doing as bad as he feared. They were getting somewhere. Maybe if they had a nice long discussion, they wouldn't have so many arguments. Not that Tony could complain about their arguments; they usually resulted in sex anyways. Hot, passionate, falling-out-of-bed sex.
…Tony shook himself to clear his thoughts. Don't get all kinky now; try to be serious, he told himself. He returned his attention to his girlfriend.
When Pepper didn't speak, Tony prompted her again. "What did I do that was stupid and how can I make up for it?"
This seemed to be the wrong thing to say. Pepper raised her eyebrows, clenched her purse with white knuckles, and spoke in an alarmingly calm voice. Uh-oh. Calm-Before-the-Storm Pepper was even less manageable than Unreasonable Pepper.
"What did you do, Tony?" she asked, eyebrows raised. "I'd have you answer that question yourself if you weren't the most clueless man I've ever known."
Pepper stood, slowly, maintaining eye contact as she tapped her purse against her leg, like a bomb ticking down to its explosion. "For a genius who's slept with more women than I can count, you are hopeless when it comes to relationships. I don't know what I was thinking, getting into This with you." They both knew what "This" was. It was arguments and cuddling and cold shoulders and passionate nights and nervous finger-drumming and I'm-so-glad-you're-safe.
"Pepper, you've made it clear that you're mad, just tell me why." Why did women always insist on drawing things out like this? Beating dead horses with sticks, or whatever the messed-up expression was. "And try to do it without yelling. Not that I don't think you're sexy when you're angry. You totally are."
It was probably a good thing Pepper slapped him before Tony could continue on that particular tangent.
"Sorry. I'm listening, I swear." He put on his best I-care-about-what-you-have-to-say face and clamped his mouth shut.
Pepper looked all wound up like a spring for a moment, and Tony braced herself for an explosion, but then the redhead shut her eyes and took a deep, cleansing breath. Tony knew those yoga lessons he paid for Pepper to attend would be worth it.
"Tony," Pepper finally said. "I know you're used to fan-girls."
Oh, that's what this is about. But… c'mon! Isn't she overreacting just a little? So that woman… Grace? Gloria. It was Gloria. So Gloria flirted with me, but it's not like I flirted back! …All that much.
"And ever since we started dating I've tried to be really accepting of that," Pepper continued, "But…" Here comes the yelling… "The way you let that woman you rescued—"
"Gloria," Tony prompted. "Or maybe it was Flora. Laura. Laurence? No, that's a guy name…"
"I was saying," Pepper said, interrupting Tony's tangent, "The way you let Gloria-Flora-Laura-Laurence get all fresh—"
"Fresh?" Tony repeated before he could think to keep his mouth shut. "What decade are we in again?"
"Oh shut the hell up."
"Jeez oh man, Pepper, don't be such a square." I have watched way too many movies for my own good.
"I will kill you."
"Sorry." Note to self: SHUT THE HELL UP.
"I just don't like how you handled that situation," Pepper continued, sounding significantly less calm. "You made off like she has a chance with you, which makes me feel like you're not serious about our relationship. I'm not going to be just a fling, Tony; I thought I'd made that clear."
"You have! I didn't mean—"
"And what's more, it…" Pepper stopped, sighed, stared at the ceiling, the walls, the floor, but not at Tony.
"Go on. I'm listening. I swear."
Pepper took a few steps towards the door. "Never mind. It sounds stupid. Just know that I am not happy with you and you are not getting laid tonight."
Despite knowing he should act submissive and whatnot, Tony grinned. "Don't think you can distract me so easily, Pep." Pepper's jaw tightened; she hated when Tony called her Pep, and he knew that. "I want to know what you were going to say. Tell me. I swear I won't laugh, or think you're stupid, or whatever you're afraid of."
Pepper glared, but evidently thought it wasn't worth the fight and divulged. "It just… it reminded me of Spider-Man 3. Okay? When Peter upside-down kisses the woman he rescued in front of MJ?"
Spider-Man 3? Pepper could not be serious. She wasn't even trying. This was ridiculous. Here Tony was trying to talk sense into someone who was using a crappy threequel of a comic book superhero movie as the basis of her argument. Spider-Man 3? She couldn't even come up with an example of a cliché misunderstanding that led to jealousy in a good movie?
Undeniably amused, Tony bit down hard on the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing. Instead, he said in what he only hoped was a passably serious tone, "But MJ and Peter get together in the end, so it's all good, right?"
Pepper glared. "That's not the point, Tony! You don't take anything seriously!" I'm supposed to take her Spider-Man 3 reference seriously? She's kidding, right?
Apparently not. Pepper threw her hands up, stormed out of the office, and chucked her purse at the sofa, where it landed and spilt its contents – wallet, keys, lipstick – onto the floor. Tony stood and followed, feeling like something had to be messing with Pepper's mind to make her act so dramatic and unreasonable over something so insignificant.
"Then what is the point? Tell me, please, so we can end this ridiculous conversation! What's the point?!" This was getting out of hand, Tony realized. He should have just let Pepper fume for a while and made up in the morning. Then he could have been spared this entire pointless exchange. But he hadn't been lying when he said he thought Pepper was sexy when she was angry, and despite being a little frightened for his life, Tony couldn't deny this assertive – no, aggressive side of Pepper kind of turned him on.
Minus all the Spider-Man stuff. Because he was a way cooler superhero than that genetically modified dweeb.
"The point is…" Pepper paused. "The point… Oh, I don't know, Tony! The point is, I don't want my life to be like Spider-Man 3; I hated that movie!"
Don't laugh. Don't laugh. DON'T laugh.
"So all this…" DON'T laugh. "Just to admit you're jealous?" Tony took a tentative step towards Pepper, realizing just then that she was wearing a new dress and her legs looked irresistible. Way to notice that after you've lost your sex privileges.
Crap. Wrong thing to say. Damn those distractingly hot legs.
"I am not jealous of anything that slut has! I am not jealous that she was clinging to you like a barnacle! I am not jealous of her stupid perfect hair and perfect figure and I'm not jealous that you flew her around a bit more than was necessary because she called you her hero and offered to thank you with sex!"
What can I learn from this? No more rescuing women? No more rescuing attractive women? Tony sighed. Yeah, this was definitely a conversation they should have waited to have till morning.
"So what I'm hearing is—"
"SHUT UP, you worthless… attractive… insufferable… I'm going to bed!"
Tony figured she meant she was going to bed alone – Even though it's my house – but he figured he'd ask anyway. "Can I—?"
"SLEEP ON THE DAMN COUCH."
Yup. He figured.
Once Tony knew Pepper was out of earshot, Tony collapsed on the sofa. "What am I doing wrong?"
"According to Ms. Potts, you've been flirting with other women," Jarvis said.
"That was a rhetorical question."
There was a long pause, during which Tony wondered what it was about today that had made Pepper so volatile. He could hardly help it if he had to rescue the occasional damsel-in-distress, and if the ladies had a tough time keeping their hands off this literal knight in shining armor, well, who could blame them? Usually Pepper was pretty accepting of that. But today…
"Jarvis, has anything happened recently that would put Pepper on edge? Is she sick? Did someone die?"
"Her vitals are normal, sir, and she shows no symptoms of illness. A scan of every known contact she has had in the past five years shows that none have died recently or been diagnosed with terminal illness."
"Well, what is she doing now?"
"Ms. Potts is currently in the master bedroom throwing pillows at the wall and cursing both you and a certain Darien Drake."
The name was entirely unfamiliar to Tony. Then again, Pepper had always strived not to mention her personal life around her boss. "Run a scan on Darien Drake, Jarvis."
After a moment's pause, Jarvis spoke. "Darien Drake seems to be Ms. Potts's former boyfriend and sexual partner." At this Tony scowled. "Analyzing the records of her texts, emails, and relationship status updates, it seems the relationship lasted only a few months and ended approximately a year ago."
"What ended the relationship?"
"It seems Ms. Potts caught Mr. Drake cheating on her."
That bastard. "Anything that would have reminded her of this today?"
"Security camera feed from the restaurant you took her to this evening shows that he approached her during the time when you left to handle that disaster in Las Vegas."
That would explain Pepper's temper, and why she wouldn't want Tony flirting with anyone else, or anyone else flirting with Tony, since this Darien had cheated on her. I feel like such a jerk. "In that case, I probably shouldn't have accused her of being unreasonable."
"Probably not," Jarvis agreed.
"And I should have taken her seriously."
"And I shouldn't have made fun of her."
"I should think you owe Ms. Potts an apology."
Tony stood, suddenly filled with purpose. "Indeed I do, Jarvis!"
"It would probably be best not to bring up Mr. Drake during your apology. If I'm not mistaken, Ms. Potts typically doesn't appreciate you prying into her personal life."
"No, I do not."
Tony jumped, turning to where he'd heard Pepper's voice. She was standing in the doorway of the master bedroom, just down the hall, arms crossed, tapping her foot in annoyance.
I am in so much trouble.
"You have two seconds to come up with an appropriate apology, Mr. Stark, or I am going to make your life miserable until I feel you've suffered enough."
Tony sighed. He was terrible at this part, the apology part. "Pepper, I'm sorry I gave you reason to be jealous. I think you're much better than whatever-her-name-was, and I don't want your life to be like Spider-Man 3." He smirked with self-assurance at that last part, earning him a half-hearted slap.
"You're insufferable. But fine. I forgive you for being an arrogant, insensitive jerk, only because I think it's sweet that you would have Jarvis check my phone records just to find out why I'm upset."
"Yes. But don't ever do it again."
Pepper smiled, and Tony remembered why he loved that smile, and why Pepper was insane if she thought Tony would ever leave her.
. . .
ash the airbender