Working so close with Tony Stark had not been what Pepper Potts had envisioned herself doing when she took the job in the accountancy department at Stark Industries, some years ago.
She had come to America at 19, enrolled into a well-respected college and majored in accountancy, with a minor in Law. All paid for by her best friend in England.
Soon after ending her education, she had seen a chance in starting at the finance department at Stark Industries, and which just graduated youngster wouldn’t jump on that chance; not only did it pay well, SI was known for their excellent Personnel policy: dental and hospital insurance for one.
Now 5 years after accepting her job in SI, and 3 years after becoming Tone Stark Personal assistant, she felt confident in being both the billionaire’s employee but also his friend.
She knew from experience just how difficult it can be to live with such fame, her best friend had the same problem, and she had seen what it did to him, at times.
Said best friend was also the reason she was on her way to speak to Tony, she’s made sure his and her schedule were clear for the next week, with only a charity gala to attend at the end of said week. She’d deliberately made it so, for her best friend was coming to stay in America too.
Giving in het access code to Tony’s workshop, the first thing she noticed was the loud AC/DC music playing, with a smile she nodded to where she knew one of Jarvis’ cameras were and the AI cut the music.
“J, what gives?”
Pepper smiled and made her way to where the voice came from; “Tony, I would like to go over something with you.”
She found the genius underneath one of his vintage cars, most likely repairing it, again, only to take it for a spin and crash it again.
“Pepper, I was sure my schedule was clear for today, and most of the week even. Did you threaten the board members again?”
Pepper smiled, “no I didn’t, and your schedule is clear, I need to speak to you about something personal.”
Tony rolled out from under the car he was fixing and sat up, looking at her; “you’re not quitting, are you? Because I am not sure I can function without you anymore.”
Pepper shook her head with a smile; “no, of course not.”
This made her companion sigh in relief.
“I just wanted to let you know I’ll be taking some holiday days for this week. I will still be at the charity gala on Friday evening. But my best friend is coming over early next morning and I would like to spend some time with him. It’s the last thing I owe him seeing as he paid for my schooling here in the USA.”
Tony looked at her and she could just see his brain whirling at 100 miles a minute. Most likely remembering that she was British born, even if she had done her best to get rid of the accent.
“Anything you can tell me of this best friend?”
Pepper sighed, she should have expected this, better to get this over with and just tell him, because the man would find out anyway and who knew just how far he’d search after that.
“His name is Hadrian Black, you already did mention him once, he’s the Brit who suddenly popped up to take over Marauder Inc. and started investing into small time cooperation.”
Tony pinched the bridge of his nose, running a hand into his hair after; only succeeding in smearing the grease that was already on there over the whole of his forehead.
“How did you get to know someone like him? I thought I was your first multi-billionaire?”
Pepper smiled, a sad look in her eyes; “that’s kind of a long story, but I am willing to share.”
Tony nodded and got up, sitting himself on the sofa he kept in his workshop, patting a space next to him as he took a drink DUM-E brought him, pulling a face after he tasted it.
Pepper took a seat and took a deep breath.
“I assume you heard of the bombing that took place in the UK some years before now. “
“I, together with a lot of schoolmates were involved, most of the terrorists had the opinion that if you weren’t likeminded, like them, you had to be exterminated. Most of my family and friends worked together in stopping them. In doing so I lost one of my older brothers, Percy and my boyfriend, Colin.”
Pepper swallowed, this still hurt to talk about, “seeing as going to school wasn’t that good of an idea at the time, I studied online and took my GCSE and A-levels with a small group at the department of education and passed them all with good grades. By now most of this terrorist cell had been caught and made to stand trial, but some still roamed free. This led to my parents keeping their kids extremely close, even though some of them were married already.
It made me so feel so suffocated that I sort of ran away, I did tell them I wanted to leave and study here in the USA and build up a new life. But they wouldn’t let me, seeing as I was the only girl after 6 boys, one of whom never came home after a bombing, only my youngest elder brother and his wife understood, they didn’t like it, but they understood. They helped me get to Hadrian’s house and he helped me set up a new identity and paid for everything. My parents weren’t that wealthy or had the connections he has.”
Pepper sighed, “it has been 5 years and I haven’t really talked to my family accept Ron and Hermione, the mentioned brother and his wife, seeing as they are all angry, I left. Hadrian finally handled everything he had to handle in England and now he’s coming here, especially since Marauders Inc. HQ is in New York. He wanted to spend some vacation time before taking the reins full time.”
Tony looked at her; “first question; what was your name before? And second question who has been leading Marauder Inc. in his stead then?”
“It used to be Ginevra Weasley, I had it changed to protect me after all the bombings and I was known in the terrorist circles, it was one of Hadrian’s demands, not that I disagreed. Being Virginia “Pepper” Potts has been liberating to be honest.
As for your second question, Hadrian’s only surviving uncle and the only surviving Marauder, they were a friend group with Hadrian’s father, godfather and uncle, had a son when things were heating up in the UK, so he didn’t think twice about getting them out of the country and setting them up in New York, Remus and his wife Nymphadora are the ones currently running Marauder Inc. at least until Hadrian will be here and enjoyed a few relaxing days.”
She knew the moment she said names JARVIS would be looking them up, so she kept quit.
Suddenly Tony whistled; “That is one best friend you have, Hadrian Black, formerly Harry Potter, has a bachelor’s degree in business management and linguistics. Was employed with Britain’s special forces and took missions with MI6. Owner of Marauders Inc. and co-owner in several small businesses who are all doing very well. He also has several charities: the Tom Riddle orphanage, formally Wool’s orphanage; Snape’s shelter for domestic abuse victims and the Lily foundation which covers scholarships for gifted children; although it says here they meant gifted in the broad sense of the word; they have some donations to mutant shelters and schools.”
Pepper smiled, tears in her eyes; “That is such a thing for him to do, I know why he named those charities the way he did, but it is not my story to tell.”
Tony nodded, a glint in his eye making her suspect he’d do just that at the first presented opportunity. It might not be that bad an idea to introduce her boss-best friend to her regular-best friend, they might just get along.
They ended the conversation with Pepper promising to bring Hadrian with her on Friday and asking Tony if it was possible for Happy to drive her to the airport. Hadrian had a rental waiting at the airport, and she’d have him drop her off, but she needed to get there first.
Tony agreed, because for once he didn’t need to be anywhere, no meetings, no evaluations for the departments, no interviews. For the next 5 days all he had to do was enjoy himself in his workshop and attend that one charity event at the end of the week. He could manage that. Maybe he should ask Pepper to take a few days off more regularly.
The next morning, Pepper was waiting on her front step for Happy, two thermoses full of coffee in her hands. She knew she asked the nice driver to bring her to the airport, but it was still 3 in the morning, so she had done the decent thing and brought coffee.
Seeing Happy pull up, she opened the passenger door to pass him his thermos and took a seat next to him. Tony always complained that Happy wouldn’t let him sit in the front, which she explained was because ‘he’s your employee, Tony, he is paid to drive you around’, while he never minded her taking a seat next to him.
Coffee in hand, they chatted mostly about Tony as he did have the strange habit of collecting his friends in weird places. Happy had been a former boxer who, after he didn’t fight in the ring anymore, took a job as a bouncer in a nightclub.
He didn’t like the job, but it gave an income. One night, a young Tony Stark had been visiting the club and had paid extra to have Happy by his side all night. The other employees at the club were star stuck by the young heir, but Happy just treated him like any other costumer.
At the end of the evening, he’d been given the nickname Happy because of his serious face. He also left a business card with the message that if Happy ever wanted another job to give the mentioned number a call.
After sleeping on it for the next days, Happy had called the number and was answered by JARVIS, who had been notified and told him to be at Stark Industries the next morning at 8 AM.
Tony had greeted him with a smirk as soon as he saw him standing there, pushed some papers from HR in his hands and welcomed him on the team as his bodyguard/driver.
Both Pepper and Happy smiled with mirth in their eyes, they had both been very lucky to have met the force of nature that was Anthony Stark, thinking fondly of how much better their lives had become after meeting the genius.
While reminiscing, the ride to the airport seemed even shorter, so when Happy pulled into the drop off lane, Pepper was shocked to see they had arrived.
“Thank you for driving me, Happy!”
Happy gave a small smile, “no problem, Pepper, have fun catching up with your friend. We’ll be seeing you Friday?”
Pepper nodded, giving a wave, and entering the airport terminal.
A couple of people were looking at her, as she was standing in the greeting area, probably wondering if Tony Stark would come out one of those doors. She sighed, Tony was very recognised, not that this was a bad thing, but seeing as everyone knew she was his PA, they assumed that he’d be there if they saw her.
Luckily, no one tried to approach her, but she did see some people either texting or calling people, so she had to be prepared for some press to be present at the exit.
She frowned, this was not how she had wanted to spend her week, especially with Harry finally coming to America. She knew how much the man hated the press; he’d dealt with enough shit back in the UK from all those vultures.
Biting her lip, she checked her watch again, it was just after 4 AM, meaning Harry should have landed by now and would come her way any minute.