By Maquis Leader
Author’s note: A bit of fluff just because.
“Mr. Stark is a bit eccentric. Not like – “ Pepper searched for the right example. “ – like Howard Hughes – but he does have some habits you need to be aware of.”
The other woman nodded, making notes on her Blackberry.
“He keeps odd hours and rarely sleeps more than four or five hours at a time.” Which could be annoying even when you were used to it. “He sleeps naked – “ Which was not annoying. “ – and he will forget to put on any clothes when he crawls out of bed in search of coffee. Ignore him and he’ll go get dressed after about half a cup.”
“How does Mr. Stark like his coffee?”
“Black and strong. Jarvis will have it ready.” Pepper liked that the woman hadn’t blushed or commented on the fact that Tony would wander around naked. Then again, according to her resume, she had previously been the PA for a professional wrestler called The Python.
“I’ll continue laying out his clothing before I go to the office, but there may be days when I don’t have time, or I’m out of town, and you’ll need to do it. Do not ever let Mr. Stark pick out what he’ll wear to an event or press conference or – “ She shifted on the couch, trying to get comfortable as she tried to think of every possibility. “ – well, anywhere that’s not downstairs in his workshop or just around the house.”
“Never. And don’t ever let him convince you that what he’s wearing is okay or acceptable for an event – any event. That’s a red flag.”
“May I ask if Mr. Stark is colorblind?”
“No, he’s not.” Pepper smiled. “But Mr. Stark doesn’t care if what he’s wearing isn’t appropriate. If I let him, he’d wear the same greasy jeans and wife beater he’d worn while working on one of his cars to a black tie party. Also, he takes one look at the closet and backs out – too many choices. Or so he claims.”
“Is the closet organized?” The woman tapped another note into her Blackberry.
“Very. By season, by formal versus casual, and by color. Coordinating items are laid out the same way. Socks, ties, et cetera.”
“Not by designer?”
“No. Tony – Mr. Stark is very loyal to Armani, there’s only one or two other designers in his closet.” She paused. “When he does dress up, he wants to look like he just stepped off the cover of GQ, so it’s important to make sure that’s what he looks like before he walks out the door. Grease is your biggest enemy.”
“Grease? You mentioned grease before – I didn’t realize Mr. Stark actually… worked.”
“He does work on his cars, although that’s more of a hobby than anything else. The ‘bots, and of course, he has the suit – he’s constantly making upgrades to it.”
“The suit? The Iron Man suit?”
“That one. He’s constantly tweaking and adding on and doing who knows what with it.” Pepper made a dismissive motion with her hands. “Just as long as it keeps him alive and in one piece, that’s all I care about.”
“Does he do a lot of… adventuring?”
Pepper stifled a laugh. “He prefers to call them missions. And it depends.” She shrugged. “He’ll hear about a shipment of Stark weapons somewhere and go after them – once there was a hostage situation at a bank – there’s no real pattern.”
“I’ve heard he’s ADHD. I’ve had experience in that area.”
“No. He’s not ADHD.” Pepper had had Tony tested. Discreetly. “The problem is, he’s so far above everyone around him in terms of intelligence that he gets bored. When he’s bored, he finds something more interesting to do. Like… hack into the CIA’s computers just to see if he can.” That one had nearly given her gray hair. “When he’s working on a project, he’s focused and it’s hard to get his attention. Oh – “ She snapped her fingers. “That’s something you’ll need to watch out for. He can be so focused that he forgets to eat. You’ll need to remind him to eat something.”
“Do you have a cook?”
“No, not on a regular basis. You’ll need to make something for him, but he’s got very simple tastes. Pop Tarts, pizza rolls, sandwiches. He may ask you to go pick up a burger or Chinese – some of his favorite places don’t deliver.” Wouldn’t deliver thanks to things Pepper would rather not go into.
The other woman raised an eyebrow. “I have to admit that while I can cook, I’m not a gourmet. I’d heard that Mr. Stark is a foodie.”
“Not really. I mean, he does have an educated palette, but he’s just as happy with a bologna sandwich as he is with ortolans en brochette.” Sensing the skepticism, Pepper shrugged and continued. “He sleeps late as a rule, and Mr. Hogan will generally bring him breakfast, so the most you may need to worry about is something in the later afternoon. We tend to either go out for dinner or get take out.”
“Do I need to keep the pantry and refrigerator stocked?”
“Jarvis usually orders whatever we’re low on and has it delivered. Mr. Stark may sometimes ask for something – check with Jarvis before you go pick it up.”
“When will I meet Mr. Jarvis?” She’d heard about Mr. Stark’s butler, but had yet to see the man.
“Ah… well… Jarvis is… “ How could she explain exactly?
“Jarvis is an artificial intelligence.” A voice from behind her added. “And I am not a five year old.”
Pepper turned and smiled at Tony. “No, but you act like one, quite often.”
“You must be the newest victim.” Tony eyed the middle aged woman. She wasn’t unattractive, but she was middle aged. He didn’t like middle aged. “Has she told you I like to walk around naked?”
“I did.” Pepper smirked.
“And?” He leered at the woman.
“And I’ve seen a naked man before, Mr. Stark.” She smiled. “I’ve yet to see anything new.”
“Yet.” Tapping his fingers on the RT hidden beneath his shirt, Tony wondered if the woman would run screaming or faint when she saw it.
“Be nice.” Pepper said sweetly but with menace. “He’s also very outspoken and tactless.”
“Is that a Blackberry?” Tony eyed the phone in the woman’s hand. “Do people still use those?”
“Tony…” Pepper said softly.
“Okay, first condition of employment, you have to have a new phone.” He held out his hand, waggling his fingers in a ‘gimme’ gesture. “Something from this century.”
“Never. Never. Never, let him touch your phone.” Pepper warned.
The woman eyed Tony warily and slipped her phone into her pocket.
“Whatever. I don’t need a new assistant. I have you.” Tony leaned over Pepper and kissed her cheek.
“I don’t have the time to be your CEO, your wife, pregnant –” She patted her growing stomach. “ – and your PA. You and your energetic spawn are wearing me out.”
“So you’re getting me a baby sitter?”
“I’m hiring a PA for you. We’ll get a baby sitter later.”
He reached down and patted her stomach. “For the baby.”
“Right.” Pepper nodded. “For the baby.”
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