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Title: Her Boy Friday (Part 1 of ?)
Fandom: Iron Man (Movieverse)
Rating: This part? PG, don't know how the others will go...
Summary: This is ridiculous Genderswapped!Iron Man fanfic for Karen, who shamelessly encouraged this idea and shall pay for it dearly by being given fics now. :p

EDIT: Added more to round out the chapter, next part from Toni's POV

_____________


Peter 'Pepper' Potts has seen all of Toni Stark’s baby pictures.

He has seen the grade school portraits of dark hair in pigtails and huge curious eyes, the high school year book photos, a bespectacled girl of barely eleven trying to look more mature than she really was. Pictures at age fifteen, first year at MIT, with defined arms and shoulders and loose, layered hair, hunkered over a circuit board with a peculiar sort of grace. A cocky smile as she stood under Howard’s proud arm in graduation cap and gown, seventeen years old.... days before her father died and her world collapsed into funeral plans, and interview requests, and family feuds over the estate.

Pepper’s favourite, though is a charmingly candid snap from the first year that he had worked for Toni. It was one of the few photos that the genius millionaire hadn’t posed for in the course of her young life.

Toni at twenty four in her workshop, hands on hips, with the giddy smile of a child on Christmas Day as the beaten up shell of her future prized hot-rod was rolled in through the garage door.



Pepper took the picture himself.
_ _ _ _


Peter had been hired when Toni turned twenty three, after her takeover from Obadiah and after the last three assistants she had had quit within months of their hiring.

And not just ‘I’m sorry I need to tender my resignation’ quit, but ‘run screaming from the house and in one case vandalized one of the corvettes in sheer frustration and rage’ quit.

Perhaps if Peter had known that he wouldn’t have been so eager about getting the call for the interview. (Then again, even the male dancers employed as part of the Stark company jet’s VIP flight crew practically pissed themselves with glee just at being on the woman’s payroll so Peter supposed that even despite the horror stories the salary and benefits alone might have drawn him in.)

Toni had conducted Peter’s interview personally (after showing up a fashionable hour late), sprawled out behind her desk in a pair of ripped jeans and a worn-out Stark Industries T-Shirt, wiping grease off her hands with an oil-rag. Dressed up on magazine covers she cut a striking form in tailored suits and sultry evening wear, but even here with her dirty Nike’s with a hole in the sole planted firmly on top of Peter’s beautifully printed resume, she was captivatingly pretty.

“ See, I need someone who knows how to butt in without being disrespectful.” Toni had explained, examining Peter’s sharp attire with something that he could only assume was curiosity. “I’m not so good with the media so you need to have a good rapport with them, and just, you know, remind me about my appointments and things. It’s not so hard.”

“I assure you if I can do one thing better than anyone else it’s keep a person to a schedule Ms. Stark.”

_ _ _ _


Peter quickly figured out that keeping Toni Stark to a schedule meant putting the really important stuff into the planner three to four hours prior to it actually needing to get done, calculating a shit-ton of overtime for the flight crew that stood around on stand-by playing rummy for hours and going through a fresh pair of dress shoes every three weeks.

Apparently ‘not-so-hard’ was actually Stark-ese for ‘getting-me-to-take-my-birth-control-pills-every-morning-is-like-washing-a-cat-with-an-eye-dropper-and-if-you-think-you-can-get-me-to-show-up-to-a-function-that-I’m-supposed-to-be-hosting-you’re-out-of-your-mind’.

Peter would have called his boss ‘flighty’ or maybe even ‘air-headed’ but in reality her intelligence was staggering and her personal schedule-keeping a shrewd mix of self-serving arrogance and awareness of what was and was not a waste of her expensive time.

Despite a daily urge to strangle the woman with her own sassily loose necktie Peter toughed out the first three months with a combination of stiff drinks, colour coded sticky notes and a photographic memory for the eye-popping amounts printed on his weekly pay-stubs.

_ _ _ _


Ninety days in he started reminding Toni that he was due for a review of employment, a hundred and ten days in after being reminded for the twenty third time Toni told him to take a seat in the car she was working on and proceeded to conduct his employee review on her back while mucking around with the oil-filter.

“You haven’t trashed any of my cars yet, so I’d like to keep you.” She said, interspersing her praise with cursing as she cut up her knuckles on the undercarriage. “You’re recognizable in a crowd, you don’t get offended easily, and Jarvis really likes you...”

“Ms. Stark...” he hesitated, trying to word this correctly.

You’re an irresponsible infuriating madwoman? Would you be willing to sign a waiver that would allow me to physically drag you to your appointments? Would it kill you to remember to take your own medications sometimes pretty please? I need a bigger shoe budget?

“This job is... well it’s more of a challenge than I expected and I think a couple of things need to change in terms of my responsibilities and what I can and can’t do without your sign off.”

“If it’s about the pay I’ll double it.” Toni offered, her voice tight with effort for a moment as she wrenched the oil filter completely out of its socket. “You do good work, Pepper.”

Peter paused at that, flabbergasted.

“Where did you find out my nickname?”

“Jarvis told me. It was in your high school year book.”

“Wh... my high school YEAR BOOKS are part of my background check?”

“That was more of a ‘bored on Monday night personal interest’ sort of check. But I like the nickname.” She slid herself out from under the car and shot Peter a charming smile, the sort of expression that tempted power-suit CEO’s to follow her home every time she bothered to show up at a fancy party.

“Do you mind if I call you Pepper?”

And Pepper shook his head.

_ _ _ _

The first weird requests started pouring in after Christmastime, when the paperwork had settled down a little. Toni had blessedly heeded Peppers request to be given the reins with the media and advertising division.

His word was now as good as Toni’s personal consent for the majority of her communications with outside agencies which kept her need to actually make Toni do things down to the bare minimum of important legal issues, official in-person appearances, and smoothing over all the fallout from said personal appearances with story-spinning skills that would make the CIA blush for shame. Still an armful with a cherry on top, but a less precarious more well organized one.

Then Toni added in an, “Oh, and I need you to find me a car.”

“A car?”

“I think I want to rebuild a hot rod.” She said casually, flipping through the report Pepper had brought her with her usual casual indifference. “You know, like take a hunk of something really wrecked up that I can work on and build it back up. Maybe a Ford, mid thirties model? Think you can find me something like that?”

Pepper raised a brow at her, but nodded his head.

“I’ll look into it Ms. Stark.”



One ‘fucking perfect’ 1936 Ford hot-rod shell later and Pepper was put in charge of all the official splurges as well.



Dress and shoes for a high rolling invite only party that she’s only going to get drunk at, appropriate extravagant gift for host of said party who will say thank you but not mean it, the nicest hotel room in all of New York to sleep off the hangover in, and an overpriced Ming vase that sits in the foyer dusted and well cared for by the maid staff. All of it bought at Pepper’s discretion and piled on the black AMEX alongside his birthday gift to himself. The last part is Toni’s insisted upon treat.

“I don’t have that shopping gene thing unless we’re talking about scrap-metal.” She insists, pencil between her teeth, bent over a lighted easel and never taking her eyes off the diagrams taking shape there. “Just buy yourself something nice with the company card and send me a thank you note.”

So the whole self-birthday gift thing becomes a tradition of sorts, because birthdays are less of a remembrance and more of a spur of the moment ‘oh that’s TODAY, let’s have a night on the town then’ thing for Toni.

_ _ _ _


Ten years later, when things are ever the same but just as totally different, Pepper buys himself a new suit, three new pairs of shoes, those orthopaedic insoles his doctor has been insisting on and orders in Chinese for the night, vaguely wondering how Toni is doing on the other side of the world and whether or not Colonel Rhodes is actually going to be able to keep her under control for three whole days.

The reporter he kicked out of the house that morning got snotty with him, like he wasn’t the one standing dazed in Toni’s living room in embarrassingly patterned boxers and a too-small bathrobe.

“All this time and you’re still her little errand boy?”

“I do anything and everything that Ms. Stark requires, including occasionally taking out the trash. Will there be anything else?”


Pepper lays back in bed and looks at the dark ceiling over his head and thinks about how much more satisfying it might have been to hand his PDA over to the asshole and say ‘oh okay then, why don’t YOU do my job for a month?’.

Ten years with Toni and he has her down to an art, smart-assed self-righteousness, fashion sense and all. Giving anyone else the reins was the sort of sadistic thing you did to people who had murdered your puppy with a weed whacker...


Pepper wants to relax but there’s a nagging feeling in the back of his mind that something is not okay. He feels like he did that time Toni bent her Ferrari around a telephone pole, or that other time that his Blackberry's memory card shit itself inside out right before a huge day of appointments, or...

His phone goes off – stars and stripes forever tells him it’s Rhodey – and when he picks up the voice on the other end is faint and strangled. Pepper’s stomach sinks down somewhere around his shoes and his heart lodges right into his throat.

In the weeks to follow, the feeling doesn’t leave him for a moment.
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