Characters: Pepper, Tony, Jarvis (briefly)
Spoilers: The movie, obviously. Also makes a couple of Fantastic Four references, which snuck in while I wasn't looking.
Word count: 1,574
Summary: Pepper and Tony discuss literature. Sort of. POST-MOVIE.
Author's notes: Of all the things I could and should be writing, my mind apparently decided this was the most important. Don't ask me where it came from or what purpose it has, I don't know. My first Iron Man fic. Unbeta'd, all mistakes are mine.
“Miss Potts, I am the middle of a great tape emergency!” Tony announced.
He never knocks – that how she knows it’s him. He threw open the door to her office in that attention grabbing way he’s so fond of and marched in.
“I’m sorry to hear that, Mr. Stark,” she said. “What is the nature of your tape emergency?”
He was already into her stuff, looking inside boxes and rearranging papers. She never keeps anything she doesn’t want him to see in here for that reason. He can’t keep still and it is a well-known fact that he has wandering hands.
“I am in desperate need of tape and there isn’t any, Miss Potts,” he said. “What other kind of tape emergency could there be?”
She didn’t say what she was thinking – which involved some blonde woman, duct tape and bed posts. She just smiled and opened a drawer in her desk. It was full of rolls of tape of all varieties and uses. Tony always needed tape in the middle of the night, made no attempt to find any and then went out to some all-night drugstore to buy some. Which meant over the years she had collected many rolls of tape.
“What kind of tape do you need?” she asked. “Duct tape? Masking tape? Scotch tape? Electrical tape?”
“Uh, door number three,” Tony said. He leaned over her desk and peered into the drawer. “That is a veritable menagerie of tape, Miss Potts. Are you hoarding in case of the apocalypse or do you have some sort of tape kleptomania fetish thing that I was unaware of? I have to admit, I’m hoping for the latter.”
“I like to be prepared, Mr. Stark,” she replied. She selected a roll of barely used Scotch tape and tossed it to him.
“There is enough tape in there to feed a small island population for a year,” he said. “Provided I had a small island and they could eat tape. Do I have an island?”
“No,” she said.
“Are you sure? I seem like someone who should own an island,” he said. “I should buy one. Look into islands for sale. I could use a secret base. Maybe in a volcano.” He held up a hand as though she had objected. “I know, a bit impractical.”
“The air conditioning bill alone...” she said.
“But think of the money saved in the winter,” he interjected.
“...And the possibility of eruption, which would really ruin my day...”
“I would come and fly you to safety, of course.”
“...And the commute would be hell,” she finished.
“I’d double your salary,” he said. He paused. “No. I need an island. Find me an island, Miss Potts!”
“I’ll add that to my To-Do list,” she said.
He had selected a couple of pens from the holder on her desk and was now taping them together. As she watched, he selected another pen and attached it as well.
“I read that book you were talking about,” he said, as he worked.
“The book,” he said. He waved a pen vaguely around. “The one with the British guy who’s a jerk to the British chick with the billion sisters.”
“Pride and Prejudice?” she asked.
He jabbed a pen at her. “That’s the one.”
The mini-series had been on TV the other day and Pepper had it on in the background while she sorted through paperwork. When Tony had barged in to distract her, he’d paused to make fun of the characters on screen. She’d mentioned it was her favourite book. She was surprised he remembered. He never picked up on anything important she said, but some useless piece of trivia would, of course, be permanently stored in his brain.
“You read Pride and Prejudice?” she asked.
“Yes. No. Jarvis read it to me,” he explained. “Last night, while I was working. He does a lovely Lizzie Bennet.”
“Thank you, sir,” Jarvis said.
Tony looked up. “Hey, don’t eavesdrop.”
“You would like me to engage my privacy function?” the AI asked, sounding somewhat affronted.
Pepper often remembered the days when she didn’t know AIs could be affronted.
“No, that’s all right,” Tony said. “If Miss Potts tries to kill me, I want witnesses.”
“Understood, sir,” Jarvis said.
The sculpture had become cubical now and was still growing as Tony taped more pens to it. She knew she should probably stop him before he took all her writing utensils, but there was something about getting a look into Tony Stark’s brain that made her hesitate.
“So, what do you think?” she asked.
“About you murdering me? Not really the way I want to go out. I mean, being a superhero and all, it would be nice to die saving children or, like, a bunch of kittens -” he stopped his thought mid-sentence. “Are you a cat or a dog person, Pepper?”
“Dog,” she said.
“Well, puppies, then. But, I am aware that you probably have some hidden secretarial ninja skills that may catch me off guard one day, not to mention those heels that, quite frankly could pierce my -”
“Tony,” she interrupted. “What do you think of the book?”
He blinked at her. “The book.”
“The book we were talking about two seconds ago,” she prompted. “Pride and Prejudice?”
He paused in attaching the latest pen to the sculpture. “Oh, right. If you wanted to talk about that you should say ‘what did you think of the book?’ which would imply a past tense, since I am not currently reading the -”
“Never mind!” Pepper said. “I don’t care.” She snatched a pen from the holder before he could get to it and rifled through some papers on her desk. “Your appointment at the Baxter Building has been moved to - “
“It seemed illogical,” Tony interrupted. “The book. I mean, all someone had to do at any point was say ‘listen, you know that thing that you think I said or did or wanted to say or do? Totally did not happen. P.S, I dig you, let’s get married and spend our 10,000 a year.’ By the way, how does that work? Does some guy from the bank just show up on New Year’s Day and say ‘here is your 10,000 pounds, sir, don’t spend it all in one place?’”
“I...don’t know,” Pepper said, thoughtfully. “I hadn’t really thought about it.” Tony made a disbelieving note in his throat at her lack of curiosity. “I didn’t consider it vital to enjoying the story, Tony. And some people, they have this quality called ‘shyness’. I know it’s a foreign concept. Some people don’t spill everything in their heads out in a Shakespearean monologue as soon as it occurs to them.”
Tony furrowed his brow, as though trying to wrap his head around the concept. “The sister was an idiot, too,” he said, after a moment.
“Agreed,” Pepper said.
“Do chicks really dig guys in red coats that much?”
Pepper shrugged. “Apparently.”
Tony wiggled his eyebrows. “I have a red suit.”
“I’m not running off to Gretna Green with you,” Pepper told him, with a smile.
“Not even for 10,000 a year?” Tony asked. “To be paid on New Year’s Day?”
“I’d need a lot of frocks,” Pepper decided. “And bonnets. And perhaps a Barouche-Landau or two.”
“Done,” he said. “Though, you really shouldn’t cover up your hair, Pep. It’s a crime against nature. Seriously, nature will sue your ass. Which isn’t that bad, either.”
She rolled her eyes and wondered how, after so many years, he still managed to make her blush. He loved to do it, too. His eyes always twinkled with that smarmy delight when her cheeks pinked up. She cleared her throat.
“The Baxter Building meeting, Mr. Stark,” she said.
“Yes, Miss Potts,” he said, mimicking her professional tone.
“It’s been moved to tomorrow at 10 am,” she said.
“Richards blow his lab up again?” Tony asked. There was a slight hint of affection in the question. Reed Richards was perhaps the only person in the world who could follow Tony Stark’s technobabble and vice versa. Pepper suspected the two were in competition to see who could out babble the other.
“I believe Mrs. Richards has a doctor’s appointment Mr. Richards forgot about,” Pepper said. “It sounded important, from the yelling in the background.”
“World’s dumbest smart guy,” Tony muttered. “Order some flowers for Suzie?”
“They’ll be delivered just before your arrival tomorrow,” Pepper said. “So you can pick up them in the lobby. You also sent me a lovely bouquet of lilies for my hard work and loyalty.”
“I’m a regular Mr. Darcy,” Tony said.
Pepper snorted. “You’re a George Wickham at best, Tony.”
“You wound me, Pepper,” Tony said, putting a hand to his chest. “I mean, I have tiny pieces of metal trying to pierce my heart, but that, that hurt. I am taking my tape and leaving.”
She smiled and shook her head, eyeing the sculpture of pens on her desk. She wondered if she could auction it off for charity. 'A Tony Stark Original'.
“Don’t be up all night,” she called after him.
“Evil doers never sleep, Miss Potts,” Tony called back. “We cannot know what atrocities may occur that need avenging.”
Pepper rolled her eyes and began dismantling the pen sculpture.
Tony stuck his head back through her doorway and winked at her. “Besides, tonight Jarvis is reading me ‘Sense and Sensibility.’”