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PERMALINK // POSTED ON: Oct 23 2015, 09:35 PM
Pepper Elizabeth Stark
CEO @ Stark Ind.
Virginia 'Pepper' Elizabeth Stark (neé Potts) was born on May 04th; she graduated with a degree in Business Administration, starting her career out in the fiance department of Stark Industries after Tony Stark took over the business for his deceased father Howard Stark. It was there that she found a massive error in the company's accounting calculations, a massive one that would have cost the company millions upon millions of dollars had it gone unnoticed.
No one was permitted to bother Tony without a scheduled meeting or an authorized visit, but that hadn't been enough to deter her from doing just that. It was that evening that Tony was lured outside by the sound of his security team deep in argument with the fiery redhead, entering the disagreement just in time to hear the young woman from the financial department threatening to pepper-spray Tony's security staff if they did not let her in to see him and, from that moment forward, he has never stopped calling her 'Pepper'.
Truth be told, she still doesn't quite understand why Tony was so taken with her from that moment forward, almost immediately thrusting her into the position of his personal assistant despite her attempt to turn down what he believed to be a well-suited promotion. While Pepper wasn't fond of the idea of fetching a CEO his coffee and dry-cleaning, she quickly learned that this position he had pushed her into was far from the typical role of someone's personal assistant. Instead, she was granted access to everything that had to do with Stark Industries, as Tony had absolutely no ambitions nor motivations to run the company himself. While this did leave the company to rest on Pepper's shoulders, she never minded the workload and it was because of her determination (and ability to keep Tony in line) that Stark Industries continued to thrive.
Their relationship was a strange one and anyone that knew the both of them understood that endlessly. Tony was the equivalent of a volcano, in the sense that he was never entirely tame. There were times when it might have seemed as though he were quiet or relaxing his wild ways when in reality, his need to constantly be on the move - meeting new people and seeing new things - was always active beneath the surface.
Pepper, on the other hand, was a lightening storm in her own right. Always present, even if she went unnoticed, and barely balanced somewhere between graceful and chaotic. There was always too much work on her plate; she was a personal assistant needing a personal assistant, but not once did Pepper ever so much as suggest to Tony that he create such a position. She took every project Tony was meant to overlook and every meeting he was meant to attend in stride. If he wasn't able to do his job both properly and efficiently, Pepper was there to do it for him, and was always sure to reciprocate by tearing a strip off him for putting her in that position.
There was little her nagging ways had done; Tony continued to bed women left, right and center, and if he wasn't escorting them out come morning, they were left for Pepper to deal with before her morning debriefing with Tony. There was little she found herself unwilling to do for him; perhaps it was a touch condescending to say, but she truly felt as though it were her responsibility to save him. He didn't have anyone looking out for him and there was no one to catch him should the day ever come when he found himself falling towards hard ground. Hell, there had even been a small corner in Pepper's mind that believed he wanted to be saved; why else would he have offered her this position? Why else would he have let her get closer to him than anyone had ever been?
This was her life for nine years and she had no qualms playing the role of Tony's conscience for most of them. She was able to work in close proximity with him - often spending more time at his place than her own - and was able to work with him from a distance, as he often spent time in the Middle East, introducing new products to the Department of Defence. It was during one of those trips that Tony had been abducted, tortured and held captive. It was there that he had built his first suit in a successful attempt to escape alive, and it was during this time that Pepper finally allowed herself to admit that over the nine years that she had been working so closely to Tony for, her her platonic feelings had been romantic in disguise.
She was red and teary-eyed on the runway when he had been brought home by his long-time friend James Rhodes; they joked, as they so often did, teasing each other in a way that showed very little had changed between them despite just how different Tony looked. Bruised, beaten and starved, but he was still her Tony.
From that moment on, Stark Industries was no longer the company that Pepper had known all of her professional career. Tony wrestled control from Obadiah - his father's friend - and moved to shut down the weapons division immediately and permanently, having seen what his weapons were capable of doing firsthand.
Being that Tony wasn’t merely a businessman, and definitely wasn’t a figurehead CEO by any stretch of the imagination, it is less surprising than one might expect that all of Tony’s basement/garage also existed as a laboratory. A vast majority of the company’s designs came from inside Tony’s head. It was in that lab that Tony coded J.A.R.V.I.S. (Just A Really Very Intelligent System) and it was there that Tony built the Mark II - his second version of the suit he had created in Afghanistan while Obadiah worked on his own efforts to keep Stark Industries afloat as the largest name in weapons manufacturing.
Truth be told, many people believed Tony was suffering from PTSD after his return. Certainly, Obadiah and others did, as the motion to shut down the weapons department was blocked by the board almost immediately. Rumours had circulated that the infamous Tony Stark’s days as a prisoner of war were affecting his abilities to successfully run the company. Rumours also arose that suggested Obadiah might enact a forceful takeover of said company - not unheard of, but certainly frowned upon. At first, it seemed like all was in a holding pattern because of these forces; eventually the protegé had to come home, right? And yet, as time stretched on, he didn’t. While Tony stayed away tinkering, Obadiah took more and more control over the company he had been running in Tony’s absence, misinforming Pepper and Tony alike of his decisions.
All secrets come out eventually, though. Obadiah’s came out at Tony’s first public event since his return. Tony, who had already taken the Mark II for a ride and therefore was riding high on his success, spent the night flirting with Pepper and avoiding more than one person wishing to talk to him. It was while he was at the bar getting another drink that he was cornered by someone with a great deal of evidence of Stark weapons being held by enemy hands. Furthermore, there was proof in the pudding that Obadiah had been selling weapons to enemies of the state with one hand and supplying the military with the other. It was Obadiah that was blocking Tony’s attempts to put both himself and the company on the straight and narrow, and it was Obadiah who had frozen Tony out with the board during his recovery. Obadiah did not want Tony interfering.
Tony reacted by taking a day trip to Afghanistan - because, you know, that is a sensible reaction. However, this act had a great deal of sentiment for Tony, for it was Ho Yinsen’s village that he travelled to - the village he had been shown by the person at the bar. He liberated Gulmira, destroying the weapons he knew to be stockpiled there and eradicating the village of the presence of the Ten Rings, then headed home.
An altercation with the Air Force led to Rhodey discovering the truth about Tony. In all but two breaths, Rhodey promised to keep Tony’s secret; they both fundamentally understood what would happen if the world knew of Tony’s newest creation, and more importantly, who wielded it.
Upon his return, he and Pepper began to dig. It was Pepper who discovered that Obadiah had gone a step further than anyone had yet to guess: that he was the one who paid the Ten Rings to take Tony out in Kunar. It was because of Tony’s value that he was permitted to live. After all, they believed they would get bigger, better weapons from him at a tenth of a tenth of the price, just because they had kept him alive. It was because of Tony’s genius that he was able to escape them. This was not at all what Obadiah wanted, but what had he expected, going up against a man who had seen far darker days than he could ever even begin to imagine?
Pepper also uncobered that Obadiah had managed to get the company to rebuild the Mark I—but it was Tony, unfortunately, who realized Obadiah had yet to figure out how to power it.
Tony was caught off guard by Obadiah’s attack. It was a bitter irony that what disabled him was something else he had helped create. And while Tony lay paralyzed from another destructive brainchild of his, Obadiah took the arc reactor from him - that one thing keeping him alive. Selfish, Obadiah had said. Tony was selfish to keep these ideas to himself, selfish to think that his methods ought to be kept under wraps. The world deserved more, Tony. And then he left.
Obadiah had fully expected Tony to die and tie up that loose end with no effort. Tony would have, too, for the reactor was the only thing powering the electromagnet that kept all those minute pieces of shrapnel from piercing his heart. However, the reactor that Obadiah took was not the original one Tony had made. No, the first iteration of this strange invention sat downstairs in the lab, encased in a glass box, waiting for him to crawl to and shatter. Pepper had had it mounted for him- along with an inscription that read “Proof Tony Stark has a heart”- and left it there for him to remember.
Tony fought Obadiah, and he won. The content of the fight isn’t important. It was a battle of wits as much as it was a battle of fists, and the two managed to destroy a vast portion of the Stark Industries campus’ in California in the process of it. In fact, if it weren’t for Pepper, the battle might not have been won at all. But between the two of them, Tony and Pepper were able to destroy Obadiah by dropping him into the company’s overloaded arc reactor (such is the state of Tony’s mind that even with a larger-than-life example of what Tony had made, Obadiah still couldn’t get anyone to recreate it). And Tony, though nearly killed by the process, managed to walk away. Nobody knew the “who” or the “what” or the “why”- they just knew that when they turned on their television sets that morning, Tony was back at the helm of the business… and a legend had been born.
After the battle against Obadiah in California, Tony beelined for a change in scenery, and he and Pepper embarked on a business venture to set up shop in New York, believing the business could be run from the New York headquarters but Tony - ever unable to sit still for too long - hadn't lasted much beyond that frigid winter and had bounced to New Orleans, Louisiana on a business trip that had extended into a permanent residency. Not before handing Pepper the title of CEO of Stark Industries, upon seeing just how long she had been running the company under Tony's own name.
It had taken him a lot of pleading to finally coax Pepper to take a business trip over to New Orleans; a lot of unsigned documents that had been "lost", "misplaced" or "hadn't been received" were used to lure her. Tony offered up a spare room in his home and Pepper's weekend-trip turned into an extended stay that led her to meet and begin dating a man by the name of Geoffrey, though Tony's jealousy slowly began chiselling away at that relationship as he began doing anything he could to soak up as much of Pepper's time as humanly possible.
It was a couple of weeks into her extended stay when the Maximoff twins - a set of enhanced siblings that had been experiments of the Division - had kidnapped Pepper in an effort to lure Tony Stark to his inevitable death, as they blamed him (and his weapons) for the death of their parents and the destruction of their home in Sokovia.
In an abandoned warehouse, Pepper and Tony were held and tortured, though Tony received ninety percent of the physical and mental torture that the twins inflicted. It was Happy Hogan - Tony's head of security - was able to interfere and rescue the pair.
After that, Pepper's relationship with Geoff disintegrated rather organically as her feelings for Tony (and his for her) bubbled to the surface after a decade of denying them respectfully. Tony had made the first move (and even laid down the first 'I love you' months after the two embarked on a romantic relationship together), though very few are able to see just how affectionate Tony is behind closed doors now that he has finally settled down.
While the foundation of their relationship remains sound, it has received a few shakes as Pepper learned a year in that she was pregnant and that Tony - upon learning that his arc reactor was slowly killing him - had been keeping his approaching death from her for the entire year that they had been together. Both were situations that they ended up navigating around together; Tony was able to find an antidote for the sickness (caused by the arc reactor) that was slowly killing him, and both found themselves accepting their unplanned pregnancy.
Pepper's pregnancy seemed calm to the outside world, but during it she experienced an armed robbery at a baby boutique she had been shopping in. A robbery that had resulted in a shelf being pushed over onto her which nearly forced her to miscarry their child. Tony, on the other side of things, went toe-to-toe with the Division (alongside his newfound friends Bruce, Natasha, Steve, Kamila and Pietro.
Tony proposed to Pepper with a ring he had purchased during their first month together, and the two wed on their one-year-anniversary on December 12th, 2016. Rowan Anthony Stark, their son, was born on May 15th, 2017. Things seem quiet for now, but given just how adamant Tony is on using one of the Stark Industries-owned buildings to house his ability-enhanced super-friends, things won't stay quiet for long.
PERMALINK // POSTED ON: Oct 8 2017, 10:40 PM