Pairing: Tony Stark/Pepper Potts
A/N: Thanks to my Smoosh for help with the pics... All base pics were originally found in random places online and amended by me and my Smoosh... If someone needs credit for something please let me know. I do not intend to steal, just share the love! Like this beautiful bit of fanwork that was emailed to me so I don’t know who created it... just that it definitely should be shared...
Also, this turned into something kind of epic... And I’d apologise but I think you all might kinda like it anyways!
Blurb: I honestly can’t even remember how I got into shipping these two... I read a few comics way back when and honestly, they didn’t catch my attention so much... Then I watched the movies and thought, “excellent popcorn comic movie!”. Then I watched them again with a friend and thought “I wonder if there’s any good fic out there...”
I went back and reread all the comics too, literally ALL the comics, 50+ years of Iron Man comics (on a side note, Fraction, your ideas are pretty great, your writing is okay enough, your follow through sucks ass... Continuity; look it up. And Larocca... What happened? I adored your X-Men work!! Now we’ve got like, halfassed Nicole Kidman as Pepper Potts and the poor man’s Josh Holloway as Tony Stark? Stop tracing and freaking start creating art again!) Yeah, so anyways, hours and hours of reading have only made me love Tony and Pepper more.
Some general background on Tony & Pepper... (general because comics love nothing more than a bit of retconning every few years... and then there is TV shows and movies and so on...)
Anthony Edward Stark: Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist... Alcoholic, industrialist, futurist, engineer, orphan, educated, optimist, cyborg and surprisingly enough, romantic... As of the latest incarnation of Iron Man, Tony grew up rich, friendless and, in my opinion, on the spectrum. His alcoholism started when he was a teenager, he had a very unstable relationship with both his parents, both parents died when he was in college leaving so many issues unresolved. Tony was injured by insurgents and was saved by Yinsen Ho. Tony attempted to save them both by building the Iron Man armour, but Yinsen died in the escape. Tony returned to the world, and kept the fact that HE was Iron Man a secret, claiming that it was a body guard. Eventually people found out the truth, then he wiped their memories of the fact, then he told a select few, then the world found out again anyways... As a Futurist, Tony is always looking for bigger, better, more from his tech and underwent the ‘Extremis’ process, then when he was being hunted after Civil War, Tony wiped his memory completely clean to be restored at a later point from an earlier backup (yes, his mind is actually accessible like a computer hard drive because that is exactly what it is after the Extremis process). Unfortunately, he lost a rather large portion on his memory... Including the memory of finally, finally sleeping with Pepper...
Virginia “Pepper” Potts: Pepper started working for Stark Industries straight out of high school and ended up working for Tony as his secretary after discovering an accounting error... She was, of course, madly in love with him and did everything she could to catch his eye. She did, but he didn’t actually do anything about it and luckily, she got smart about it and married Happy Hogan, who loved her at first sight. She and Happy left SI with Tony’s blessings, but things didn’t go great for them and they ended up divorced and both back working with Tony. They got together again, and many dramas later, Happy died during the midst of Marvel’s Civil War. Pepper’s life again began to circle Tony’s. She was injured when Tony’s issues exploded all over her again and Ezekiel Stane blew up a building. Tony gave Pepper her own R.T to save her life. Not long after that he also gave Pepper her own suit which she calls Rescue and she has become a superhero in her own right.
In the movies, Tony & Pepper are so freaking adorable, I can’t even stand it... The flirting is deliciously subtle, all, ‘Will that be all, Mr Stark? and ‘Yes, that will be all Ms Potts’ and of course, the whole 12 percent dialogue from The Avengers movie. It is, simply delightful!
In the comics, it isn’t quite so subtle...
Still, freaking cute no?
It takes til the end of the second movie before they get together, but they get there eventually and it works in this context, because while Tony has ALL the Daddy Issues you can think of, he doesn’t have half the other issues he has in the comics. We’ve seen them grow from what they were Before Afghanistan to After Afghanistan... They have a long past together that we see in their actions and faith in each other, even though we don’t know any details (that is what I think fic is best for, filling in the details that we all want to imagine). I do find that Pepper in the movies is a very underdeveloped character as we pretty much only see her in relation to Tony, so her relationship with his here can be construed pretty much however you want to.
Comic!Tony & Pepper love each other and the both know it, indeed, in the comics, Tony is IN love with Pepper. Pepper however, is not in love with Tony. The biggest telling point here I always thought, was that whenever Tony was in a dream sequence, it was always Pepper there with him. (Let’s not even enter my happy space that was the future flash we had of Tony & Pepper’s son and granddaughter working with Tony to defeat The Mandarin!). They’re not together in the comics, and I’m glad for that... ‘cause in the comics they are in no way at a point to be together. While Tony shows he can do commitment with Rumiko, he really doesn’t know how to do it well... He can be faithful, but only gives attention on his schedule. Pepper meanwhile, is really too selfish to be with a man like Tony Stark.
This has been well shown in the movies...
When Norman Osborn is taking over the world as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D, Tony’s off in hiding dealing with Extremis issues and Pepper is being interrogated and threatened. But it’s each other they know is going to fix everything... Tony calls for Pepper when his injuries/Extremis overwhelms him... Pepper goes searching for Tony because while the whole world seems to hate him, she’s the one who thinks he can still fix everything.
And wow, is he bad at it. He tries, so he gets points... While Pepper and Tony have always circled each other, there has always been Happy as the third point on the triangle. Pepper and Happy eventually got it together, got married, left Stark Industries, fostered some kids... Then lost it all and got divorced. They both ended up back at SI while divorced and Tony, cluelessly kept trying to send them off together for couple time... Once he found out about the divorce he tried to act as the nice, sensible, voice of reason, friend that he thought they both needed. Problem is, Tony’s crap at that role. Worst. Couples. Councillor. Ever. Still he tries, for Pepper, because he thinks Happy is what she wants, what she should want.
And it’s hot like whoa... In the comics, Tony has, in two very distinct moments, sabotaged another man’s interest in Pepper Potts. The first time, he fired Carson Wyche, the second time he told Henry Hellrung that she was already in a relationship when he asked about her.
Despite Tony being her boss, there is no real imbalance because quite simply, after so many years together, they are friends first. Pepper is never going to let Tony force her into something she doesn’t want to do just because he is her boss, but Tony would never put her in that position to start with.
Tony is an addict of epic proportions, has all the Daddy Issues, and his mother wasn’t that much better either. And that’s just the beginning. His alcoholism is a driving factor in his life, but worse than this I think is that he has sublimated the need for alcohol with the need for women. This is something he even jokes about in an AA meeting (issue 500.1). Sad to say that when he leaves that meeting he calls Pepper, who finally confesses to Tony that they slept together. Once the phone call ends he walks into a restaurant and into the arms of a complete stranger. An addict is an addict is an addict.
Both of them are jealous and selfish, so many personal imperfections between them make this one of the most interesting ‘ships out there. Their feelings for each other change with every interaction they have, they are honest with each other, and themselves about how they feel and it makes it so realistic.
They love, hate and want each other in so many different ways. This is no cookie cutter perfect love story, and I love that.
So, there are already quite a few fantastic fics recced here through the Ship:Pepper/Tony Tag I’d recommend looking through those for fics that tickle your fancy. I’ve tried my hardest not to rec the same stories (probably I have though... sorry if I did, consider those fics like, doubly awesome?), for sure I’ve recced a few of the same authors... Well, when they’re good, they’re good! Nearly ALL my fics link to AO3 or LJ, because quite frankly I hate ff.net with a raging passion. There is nothing I hate more than trolling through it to find fic, but if you know of any fantastic fic on there that you’ve not seen elsewhere I’d love to hear about it!
Anyways, onto, in no particular order, the fic!!
Fic Rec #1: An Uncanny Likeness
Why This Must Be Read: In which Tony introduces Pepper to her action figure and oh my god the ridiculous cuteness that happens afterwards! This had me grinning and giggling the whole way through...
And a bonus sequel Super Deluxe where in Pepper knows how to get her way!)
Fic Rec #2 The Courting of Tony Stark
Rating/Warning(s): Teen & Up (Covers everything from before the movies to after The Avengers)
Why This Must Be Read: This is probably my All Time Fave Iron Man fic... It’s 50000 words+ and is first in the Magnetic series (which after this fic, delves into a poly relationship with Tony/Pepper/Steve). I love that we see the evolution of their relationship here, all from Pepper’s POV and how everything we see in the movies (and some of the comic details) gains layers for seeing it that way.
Fic Rec #3: Spectrum
Rating/Warning(s): Teen & Up
Why This Must Be Read: In which Tony sets out to learn to play with others. Pepper enables him. There is crack and fluff and hilarity! And Tony pretending to hate everyone! And Pepper and Darcy (There should always be more Darcy) and Darcy in an Iron Man shirt... And then Bucky! This is the first in the series Interesting Landings which after the first fic is more centralised around the other Avengers and well worth reading too!
Fic Rec #4: Almost No One Makes It Out
Rating/Warning(s): Teen & Up, Military AU
Why This Must Be Read: What would have happened if Tony hadn't been born filthy rich? A military AU. This is, by far the absolutely best AU I’ve read in this fandom. The characters are written perfectly, Pepper is still uber organised and capable, Tony is still a genius with issues. It takes the premise of Tony not being born into money and runs with it from there. All the players in the movie verse make a showing, including Fury. This fic is superb with brilliant characterisations, plot lines and descriptive narrative. Go, read, love.
Fic Rec #5: Turning Saints Into The Sea
Why This Must Be Read: Um, porny porn... Tony being jealous and possessive and dominating and forceful and hot! Pepper flirts, Tony reacts... Then there is ridiculously hot office sex and orgasms. There should be more desk sex like this out there. In fact, there should be more desk sex period.
Fic Rec #6: How Not To Be A Cliché
Why This Must Be Read: Holy crap the 2 fics in this series are hot like fire. Tony and Pepper negotiate the beginnings of a romantic relationship. With sex. I haven’t read too many fics where Pepper is the aggressor to start the relationship and Tony trying to make her stop. And it’s done brilliantly! Also, so very balanced, with Pepper as the aggressor, but Tony slightly more dominant... The push... The pull... And Tony talking the entire time... It’s hot and it’s hard to explain, you should just go read it!!
Bonus is, the above can be considered a prequel to Responsible Science which is All About Bruce, but actually, All About Tony...)
Fic Rec #7: Day Four
Why This Must Be Read: It took me forever to decide which of PutItBriefly’s stories I should rec... He writes both movie and comic fics fabulously! Eventually I settled on Day Four as there are so little comic fics around that I had to have at least one in this manifesto. Set after Fear Itself when Tony drank off world and Pepper went to Paris and nearly died, the characterisations here are just lovely, the push and pull between them is brilliantly written.
Bonus is Mirror, Mirror which ties the movie & comic ‘verses together beautifully when the Pepper’s from each world trade places...)
Fic Rec #8: Reconciliation
Why This Must Be Read: Pepper has a list. Because everything about this fic is natural and just flows... And the characterisations are excellent... In each section, it feels like Pepper gives an inch and Tony, with his taking, takes a mile.
Fic Rec #9: He Was Always Better At Sleight Of Hand
Rating/Warning(s): Teen & Up
Why This Must Be Read: This fic is just delicious! It’s beautiful... It's become like a dance between them. He'll sway forward, his mouth close and her eyes unavoidable and she'll step back, just enough and to the side and he'll stagger, smile and pretend he understands her. Pretend that one day, she'll come around. It always plays out like this. I mean, with a blurb like that... Who wouldn’t want to read it?
Fic Rec #10: Wonderful Electric
Author: Gabby Silang
Why This Must Be Read: The author notes this fic as Ambiguously futurefic, yet more extremis-in-movieverse. but to me, it feels more like a blending of verses... And it’s really quite delightful, showing how tiring it would be to be these two characters in this particular situation... But at the same time, showing their love for each other as best they know how.
Fic Rec #11: Accountability
Why This Must Be Read: In which, In the wake of the events of the first movie, Pepper deals with the shift in Tony's attitude towards her. Another author whose writing is brilliant across the line of all their fics. I choose this one because A) it demonstrates how both Pepper/Tony and Pepper/Happy could legitimately happen, and B) in hopes that a few more people will comment and the author will write a sequel/fix it!!
Fic Rec #12 Sentinel
Rating/Warning(s): Teen & Up
Why This Must Be Read: Whoa, The Angst! Tony is raging against everything, his poor angsty heart... And Pepper is there, right beside him as always. Amonitrate is another of those authors who has a fantastic body of work... I chose this ‘cause while it’s not supershippy, the characters are developed beautifully. Is a work in progress, and hasn’t been updated in over a year which sucks... but maybe a few more reviews will have that final chapter posted?
Fic Rec #13: Zepherus
Rating/Warning(s): Teen & Up
Why This Must Be Read: In which, One day, Pepper quit and Tony lost his mind and ability to do anything at all... And everything sucked for both of them... But they work their shit out eventually...
Fic Rec #14: Winning This Argument
Author: Froda Baggins
Why This Must Be Read: Short ficlet in which, Pepper is, without a doubt, even more of a commitment phobe than Tony. This is, Tony being freaking adorable, all the while working at getting his way... The author has other fics that are probably even better than this (certainly they are longer) but this one for me, is so freaking adorable... I just love the dynamics between them.
Fic Rec #15: The PEN 15 Club, or Five Times Tony's Refusal To Keep Paper In The Tower Worked Out Well
Author: Musicfor Swimming
Why This Must Be Read: Not strictly Tony/Pepper... There is a side of Jane/Thor and Tony/Pepper/Jane/Thor... And its cracky and cute and funny and sweet. Jane and Tony argue about science! Thor goes with the flow and loses his shirt a lot. Pepper watches everyone and makes sure it all goes to plan.
Fic Rec #16: After The Storm
Author: Cheshire Song
Why This Must Be Read: A 2 part series in which The team meets Pepper for the first time and decide that Tony's utterly and completely, whipped. And really? They’re not wrong... And I love that its Natasha who fills in the rest of the Avengers when Tony and Pepper get wrapped up in each other to the detriment of everyone else.
Fic Rec #17: These Bloody Footprints
Why This Must Be Read: In which Each and every time he comes back like this, she wants to find something heavy and hurl it at his head, hoping it would knock some common sense into him. But the fact of the matter is, he doesn't have anyone else. She knows that just as she knows he could never give up his mission. This is just one of those delightful fics that has Pepper dealing with Tony whompage on a pretty big scale... And Tony ceaselessly flirting while she does it.
Fic Rec #18: Not Home Yet
Rating/Warning(s): Hard R
Why This Must Be Read: Set after Afghanistan, Tony has reoccurring nightmares... This fic is just so sweet and sexy... And flows in a way you can believe that the characters would work. Tony sleep deprived actually talks about his problems and listens to Pepper as she talks about hers.
Fic Rec #19: Leopard Spots
Author: Aramani Pantera
Rating/Warning(s): Teen & Up
Why This Must Be Read: An AU where in Tony is a were-leopard! I don’t think I’ve actually come across another Tony or Pepper as a wereanimal, and this one is totally spot on... it goes to explain a lot of his personal characteristics as an animal trait. Also has Coulson as a were-wolf BFF!
Fic Rec #20: It
Author: VR Trakowski
Link: It part 1 and It part 2
Rating/Warning(s): Gen & NC-17
Why This Must Be Read: VR Trakowski is one of those authors that has a billions brilliant fics on her website and you should definitely spend some time looking at them all! I picked these fics because it shows the fun silly side of them both... and also the hot smutty side! It has Pepper being adorable with the bots... then having a very sexy time with Tony, cause of course, he gets turned on watching her adorableness with the bots...
Fic Rec #21: Just Sleeping. But Together
Why This Must Be Read: In which It’d been a long, full, busy day, and they hadn’t seen a whole lot of each other. Well, they had, but hadn’t had a lot of time to interact. Outside of serious business stuff. He missed her. A moment of sweet fluffy flirting between Tony & Pepper
Fic Rec #21: Between Darkness and The Stage
Author: Marina Rusalka
Why This Must Be Read: Tony gets kidnapped, authorities and S.H.I.E.L.D are useless, Pepper is a BAMF! A story in which, When Tony goes missing and the authorities can't help, Pepper does what she must to rescue him. As it turns out, the rescue was the easy part.
Bonus: I really couldn’t decide which Cincoflex story to recommend... So I’m cheating and linking her whole site! Probably my favourite is Copra Cobana or A Fairy Tale or maybe Eden in a Box?! Also Purr definitely maybe... All 4 listed here are NC-17 but she has lots on the main page that are gen!